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Full text of "Roughing it in southern India"

ROUGHING IT 



M.A.HANDLEY 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



ROUGHING IT 
IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



BY 

MRS. M. A. HANDLEY 

M 



LONDON 

EDWARD ARNOLD 

1911 

[All rights reserved) 



." 



* 






TO 
THE MEMORY OP 



263033 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 



PAGI 



Duties and pleasures of a Forest Officer — Vernaculars of Southern 
India — Story about the ' boy ' — The cook — A new toast-rack — 
The tunny-ketch and 'little Master Cyril' — Cook and the soup 
— The cook's pulli — The durzai, 1 

CHAPTER II 

The cardamom forests — Hamadryads— An easy palanquin — Jail in- 
dustries—Burmese dacoits— Mode of travelling — The Churmers 
— Porters and their chants — Machans — Beauties of the forest 
— Pishashas — A clever travelling cook — Ayah and bear — 
Smallpox scare, 15 

CHAPTER III 

Elephants, and native methods of harnessing — F.'s reforms — Intel- 
ligence of elephants — Rama — Lantana— Tree-felling — Toddy 
and the toddy palm — 'Must' — Elephant and rice — The 
elephant as nurse — Elephant and Mr. D. — The Doray to the 
rescue, 27 

CHAPTER IV 

Fishing expedition — Herd of elephants — A ' rogue ' — Monkeys, . 38 

CHAPTER V 

Fishing-tour adventure — Temple in the forest — Coffee planter's pre- 
dicament — Leeches — Ticks — Caterpillars — Green bugs — Pet 
shrike — White ants — Praying mantis, 46 

CHAPTER VI 

Snakes, harmless and otherwise — Snakestone — Snake at dinner- 
party — Snake charmer — Poison fangs — A cobra — Government 
and cobra-culture — Sacred cobras of Calicut — Nondescript 

temple— Tanks and 'holy' water, 57 

vii 



viii ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER VII 



PAQB 



Calicut — The Zamorin and his palace— The Thears — Domestic 
scenes — Feeding the babies — Natives callous to animal suffer- 
ing — The Moplahs— Malabar law — Christian and 'heathen' 
servants — ' Idol worship ' — Loganharri — Missions and 
Missionaries, 74 

CHAPTER VIII 

Fighting bears — The hat-trick — Encounters with panthers — Hog 

deer and leopard-cat kitten, 85 



CHAPTER IX 

Eiver scenery — Kus-hus grass — Crocodiles — Riverside folk — Riding 
on gourds — Malaria — The Bamboo stone — Pigmies, their food 
and dress — Methods in illness and old age, .... 95 



CHAPTER X 

Home by canal — Maidenhair fern — Canal women and crocodiles — 
Bathing mats — Pishashas—A 'cat-eyed' peon — Chowry, the 
gardener's child — Ways of detecting crime — Chowry's hair — 
The tattooing of Chinniah, 106 



CHAPTER XI 

Difficulties of travel — Travellers' Bungalow at Sultan's Battery — 
Broken-down bridges — A banquet under difficulties — Story of a 
premonition — Difficulties as to supplies — Substitute for coffee 
— Smallpox — The dhoby's ways — Indian thieves, . . . 120 



CHAPTER XII 

Government order for general vaccination — Order rescinded — Lepers 

— Country leprosy — Cholera, 133 



CHAPTER XIII 

Elephantiasis — Guinea worm — Rainfall — Showers of fish — An ex- 
ceptional season — An uninvited guest — Panthers in The Wynad 
— Pony and panther — Commotion in kennel — Helmet bird — 
Strange dishes, 143 



CONTENTS ix 



CHAPTER XIV 

Manantavadi and Malaria — Experimental garden — Products — A 
clever thief— Blacksmith-jeweller — A silver chain — System of 
payment — Wild mangoes — Gold and gold-craze, . . .155 



CHAPTER XV 

The wet season in The Wynad and Malabar — Land-wind — Dinah — 
Pintu — Punch — Scenery of the West Coast — Native houses — 
Government monopolies — Sardines — Pearl-fisheries — Cliff bees 
— The apiary at Manantavadi — Silk-cotton — Varying climates 
of India, 167 



CHAPTER XVI 

The first coming of ' The Lady ' — Captain H. and his pet aversion — 
His conversion by Tim — Fright with a snake — Grass fires — 
Caterpillars and fishing-lines — Silk moths — Trials of silk- 
culture — And success, 181 



CHAPTER XVII 

Slaves in India — Native methods of hunting — Music and dancing — 
The musical scale — Native music at Hyderabad and Madras — 
The Todas— Their hospitality— Buffalo cream— Marriage system 
— Sacrificial Festival, 193 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Return to Manantavadi — Butterflies — A man-eater and his prey — 
Story of the tragedy — Mysterious disappearance of an English- 
man — Drastic native punishments — Fakirs — Suttee — The Car 
of Juggernaut — The martyr of Benares, 203 



CHAPTER XIX 

Changes in India — Government servants and gifts — The Zenanas — 
Slave-girls — Visit to a Zenana at Hyderabad — Fidelity of 
servants — Entertainments — The Nizam's palace — Native ban- 
quets — Sir Salar Jung — Tombs of Golconda — Old priest in the 
Mosque — Human monstrosities — ' God's animals,' . . .217 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER XX 



PAQS 



Tigers, Madras and Bengal methods — Dog gets in tiger's way — 
Sleeping tiger — Tiger and wild boar compared — Fanny — Two 
'near shaves' — Mooniappa — Claws of panthers and tigers — A 
man-eater's patience — F. face to face with a man-eater, . . 233 

CHAPTER XXI 

Mode of progression with a man-eater about — A gruesome discovery 
— The man-eater's end — General rejoicings — Little herd-boys 
and tigers — Native shikaris — Murder under cover of tiger — 
Epicurism of tigers — Fate of a Brahmin — A mad gallop — A 
tiger and a father — Night in a machan — A mauvais quart 
d'heure — Trophies, 247 

CHAPTER XXII 

A solitary week — Rollo — Huts described — A night prowler — A dark 
night and a pitched battle — A tiger's tactics with bison — Herd- 
boy drives off tiger — A foggy night — A tiger's mistake — 
Ibex kids, 260 

CHAPTER XXIII 

Bison hunt continued — F.'s adventures — The preparation of trophies 

— The Churmers again — Two dilemmas — Bison calves — ' Bux,' 275 

CHAPTER XXIV 

Jugglers — Initiates — Hypnotism — Telepathy — Indian impressions, . 286 



Index, 297 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



ootacamund: the lake, racecourse, and 

native town, Frontispiece 



TANK AT COIMBATORE: SUNSET . 

"OUR CAMP," 

THE GOLF LINKS: OOTACAMUND, . 

NILGIRI RAILWAY AND VIEW OF THE PLAINS, 

THE HAUNT OF THE IBEX, . 

ROAD TO THE NILGIRI HILLS, 

TODA MUND: WOMAN'S SALUTATION, . 

PYKARA FALLS, NEAR OOTACAMUND, . 

HINDU DEVOTEE OF KALI, NORTHERN INDIA, 

THE TOMBS AT GOLCONDA, . 

A BULLOCK-CART ON THE GHAT, . 



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227 


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256 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER I 

Duties and pleasures of a Forest Officer — Vernaculars of Southern 
India — Story about the ■ boy ' — The cook — A new toast-rack — The 
tunny-ketch and 'little Master Cyril' — Cook and the soup — The 
cook's pulli — The durzai. 

By way of preface to these notes of experiences shared some 
years ago with my husband, a Forest Officer in Southern 
India, I should like to say that every word entered here is 
literally true. All the incidents recorded were seen and 
heard by ourselves as we travelled from one district to 
another through that fascinating land, excepting the few 
relating to personal friends, and are not made up from mere 
hearsay. 

People can only speak or write from their own point 
of view ; ours was always an unconventional one. Not 
ours the ordinary station life of India, bubbling over with 
gossip, commonly called 'gup.' Our house at headquarters, 
wherever that happened to be, was really more a place for 
the storing of our belongings than a home. Once on the 
road, whether under tents, or in jungle-huts, then we were 
at home directly, and the friends one makes under such 
rather rough and tumble circumstances are friends for a 
lifetime. Not that the life is of necessity a rough one ; 
those used to it contrive very luxurious, or at any rate 
comfortable, makeshifts, which are not to be called hard- 
ships. Equally with my husband I found station life very 
flat when we returned to it — which had to be now and again, 
— and entirely devoid of verve or even interest. As to what 

A 



2 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

people thought of us, we were called, to our faces, ' jungle- 
wallahs ' (jungle-folk), and such indeed we were. 

Plenty of books have been, and will continue to be, 
written on Anglo-Indian social life — some true, or partly so. 
I only write of our lives, and how they ran, as I have said, 
in untrodden ways. Should our experiences seem tame to 
others, I can only say that they were not so to us, or to those 
who shared them with us at the time. 

From the story of our wanderings, composed, as it must 
be, of the more interesting or amusing episodes that might 
occur, and of descriptions of the natural beauties through 
which we passed, it might easily be imagined that the duties 
of a Forest Officer were pretty light, carrying with them 
what most energetic Englishmen, if at all inclined to out- 
door pursuits, would simply revel in, namely, constant 
change of scene and scenery, and sylvan occupation, dignified 
by the name of duty ; all heightened by the excitements of 
sport — shikar as we called it — at every turn, and in all 
forms. All the better if they took him along unbeaten 
tracks, as being so much the less shot over and harried. 

But it was not altogether so. The responsibilities and 
risks necessarily taken by Forest officials are recognised 
by the Government they serve, a certain additional rate 
of salary being granted them, known commonly, and rather 
grimly, as ' blood money.' Other men can, and do, avoid 
fever-haunted localities, the reputation of which is very 
quickly established ; they can choose their own time of 
year ; all places are not equally bad all the year round, and 
fever has its special seasons ; for instance, at the foot of the 
hilly, coffee-growing districts when the lovely, jessamine- 
scented blossom is out, then is malaria at its worst. There 
is no escape then, and all who are able to do so leave their 
estates, and seek a healthier clime. 

For a Forest Officer there are no seasons except those 
with relation to his business, which includes the planting 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 3 

up of fresh tracts, conserving forests (hence the designations 
of ' Conservator,' ' Deputy Conservator,' and so on, all 
through the grades), the supplying of timber to merchants 
for shipbuilding, masts, etc. ; produce-collecting of spices, 
honey, beeswax, silk-cotton, turpentine, and many other 
articles of commerce. His work takes him anywhere, and 
at any time, if need arise. He is fortunate when, by drain- 
age or cultivation, some deadly, dreaded area has been 
reclaimed from the fever-fiend. But he has no choice ; go 
he must often into the heart of a poison-breathing jungle, 
or along the margin of some malaria-haunted swamp, his 
supplies carried by any available men, possibly from villages 
where smallpox or cholera is rife, either in full knowledge 
of the fact or in ignorance of it, as may happen ; in either 
case push on he must ; if his own coolies are down with 
fever others have to be impressed, somehow, anyhow. He 
is paid for risking his life, and the lives of his people — for 
sowing seeds which will, sooner or later, come to the fatal 
harvesting. ' Blood money ' indeed ! A pity were there 
nothing of enjoyment or zest to counterbalance such hazards. 

Some men are of the pavements, others shun all that 
savours of the city, and are at their happiest when turning 
over stones, looking for some new ' find ' in the way of 
beetles, frogs, and so forth, or searching out plants. Such 
an one was my husband, and such were most of the men in 
his service. As with other professions, so with this ; some 
men merely drift into it, and, cordially hating the life and 
all it entails, are of no good. My husband loved his work, 
which, though arduous and dangerous, had a fascination 
for him that no other could have afforded. Above all it 
included the supreme delights of shikar, the pursuit of which 
will take a born hunter anywhere — but only those who have 
the passion in their blood will understand. 

The early days of our married life were passed in the 
plains and hill-ranges of Southern India, mostly on the west 



4 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

coast ; much of it in travelling and camping out in tents, 
or, during the rainy seasons, in bamboo huts. These were 
sometimes run up temporarily, in a few hours, just where 
it seemed suitable for the moment, or made to last from 
year to year if the place was to be revisited in future 
inspection tours. 

My husband, whom I will call ' F.', was bound to be 
away from headquarters, on forest work, for six months 
out of the twelve. These were spent in traversing the vast 
tracts of wild jungle wherein lay his business, the work being 
parcelled out in sub-divisions amongst European, Eurasian, 1 
and native subordinates, all subject to him, as he was to his 
chief, the Conservator. 

F.'s success in carrying out his duties was the greater for 
his gift of being able to pick up in a week or two the dialect 
of the locality, wherever he might be, and, in a very short 
time, to make himself so conversant with it as to be able 
to dispense with the services of an interpreter, very much to 
the advantage of ignorant villagers in the case of grievances 
which would otherwise have been righted or wronged by 
the gift of a rupee more or less. 

The dialects of the country were numerous, as were the 
quite distinct tribes, all collected in one general district ; 
low-country men and hill men ; townsfolk and jungle folk ; 
none of these consorting with each other — differing in type, 
habits and language because differing in origin. One of the 
jungle tribes, for example, plainly showed its Kaffir deri- 
vation, being woolly-haired, wide-lipped and wide-nosed, 
descendants of slaves brought over in past times by Arab 
traders to the west coast ports — Calicut, Cannanore, and 
others. 

The vernaculars of Southern India are mainly Tamil and 
Telegu, excepting on the west coast of Malabar, where 
Malayalam is the universal speech. So curious in sound 

1 Europe- Asia, a half-breed of the two. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 5 

is this last that a legend is told of a certain ruler who sent 
men to all parts of his dominions to learn the varying 
tongtfes. When those sent to Malabar returned, they only 
rattled peas in a gourd, narrowly escaping death for daring 
to jest before majesty, but they assured their prince that 
that was the sound of Malayalam, which was not to be learnt 
by any stranger. 

Of Tamil there are two kinds — High Tamil and Low 
Tamil ; three indeed, if one include the lowest of all, which 
is only used by people of the lowest castes, such as coolies, 
house-sweepers, scavengers, and also by the casteless, such 
as the Wuddahs, a folk who dig out and eat rats. 

The network of caste is too intricate to be understood 
by Western minds. Roughly speaking, ' caste ' means 
' class,' though, to a native of India it involves an immense 
deal more than the idea of class does to us, religion entering 
into the question. The distinctions of class are social, 
secular, and alterable ; those of caste, religious and im- 
mutable. 

High Tamil, as against Low, is as the English, say, of 
Macaulay's Essays, to the ordinary daily talk of educated 
persons, or the diction of newspapers. The literature and 
poetry of Southern India is all written in High Tamil, 
which, derived from Sanscrit and retaining the grand sound 
of that noblest of languages, is very beautiful to the ear. 

The ordinary Low Tamil of one's household servants 
is easily picked up, though the use of English is almost 
universal amongst these people now. 

We moved about a great deal, and I acquired a smattering 
of some seven dialects, forgetting each in turn as another 
was wanted — in this falling considerably short of F.'s real 
gift, for he never forgot or mixed them up. 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and what I said 
was often far enough from what I meant. On one occasion 
when my husband was absent, and a letter had arrived to 



6 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

to say that he was coming immediately, I told the servants 
to hasten in every way, for ' that very common fellow, your 
master, is coming ! ' the termination of an ' n ' in the word 
verdn (coming), as I spoke it, instead of the strong ' r ' sound 
in verdr, making all the difference in what I said, and what 
they, in their innate courtesy, understood and accepted 
with deep salaams, as meaning ' that greatest of living 
masters, your master.' 

The very general ' n ' termination to Low Tamil words 
gives a nasal sound, or impression, whereas the final ' r ' 
has a sonorous, rolling, and fine effect, conveying to the ear 
the knowledge that it is a question of a personage, not of a 
mere person. Herein lies the distinction between the two 
varieties of the one language. 

High Tamil, again, is spoken in the Courts of Justice, in 
lectures and so on, and is familiar to all educated natives, 
as has been already said ; even they do not employ it in 
common life. 

The third grade of Tamil, though understood, is never 
used by any one with pretension to breeding. This was 
amusingly illustrated one day when we heard a lordly- 
looking Brahmin gentleman trying to give an order to a very 
low-caste person — his baggage coolie — circumstances at the 
moment obliging him so to condescend. 

The Brahmin could very well have explained himself, and 
fluently too ; would, no doubt, have done so, had we not 
been within hearing. As it was, F. gave the order, and the 
two solemnly exchanged salaams, not a smile on either face. 
That Brahmin knew that we knew ; so did the coolie, for 
there was an amused grin as he now did what he understood 
was wanted of him. 

Most of us, mistresses of households, knew somewhat 
more of the language than we owned to, finding it to be a 
good plan on the whole, though we did not always relish what 
we caught. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 7 

A friend of mine was in want of something, and called 
to the ' boy,' 1 who would seldom be out of hearing — nor 
was he to-day. She called several times without receiving 
a reply, but heard him talking to himself, and this is what he 
was murmuring, in his own dialect, of course : ' I hear your 
goose- voice calling, I shall go when I like ! ' She told me 
that she felt furious, and also much like laughing outright, 
but that would never have done. Her husband, close by 
in his office, had also heard and noticed ; his short, sharp 
summons for ' Boy ! ' was scarcely uttered when it was 
followed on the instant by ' Yes, Sar ! ' Then came : 
1 Why didn't you answer the mistress when she called three 
times ? You answered me, the master, immediately.' 
Came the trembling, yet candid reply : 
' Missus plenty talkee only, Master beatee,' which, how- 
ever, was quite untrue of that master. Evidently to know 
the vernacular in our fashion was not an unmixed advantage. 
In my first enthusiasm with the novelty of Indian house- 
keeping, I kept careful watch on the daily expenditure. 
The plan was, as my earlier counsellors (not the later and 
better advised ones) taught me, to give the cook a certain 
sum for table purchases, and he would render his account 
every morning. 

Though careful not to find needless fault, it seemed to 
me that sixpennyworth of salt — that is to say several 
pounds — was a good deal to be used in a general way, daily, 
so I mentioned it. I was told that salt was very dear, 
but the cook admitted that that was certainly too much for 
one day's consumption ; he would make the person who 
wasted it (for, of course, that was somebody else) smart 
heavily for not looking after our interests, as did he, who 
had the buying of things. After this, twopennyworth each 
day seemed enough for us, but several new items came into 
the list. I knew the meaning of most words of everyday 

1 Indoor servant, derived from bhoy, bearer. 



8 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

use in the way of eatables, but these were strange, and 
needed explanation. On my questioning the cook he said 
that the things themselves did not exist anywhere out of 
India that he knew of, so there were no English names 
for them ; they were very special spices — ' ee-spices ' as 
he pronounced it — for our complicated curries. 

I was aware that many ingredients did go to the making 
of a good curry, and believed, but on my asking F. he said 
that all those words meant the same thing, namely salt over 
again ! oopoo being the Tamil, nimmuck the Hindustani, and 
so on. Thus did the cook ring the changes, and, though he 
may have felt checkmated when told we didn't want so 
many flavours in our curries, most certainly he scored 
eventually in some other way, since that was his business. 

I remember, too, being put to bitter shame at dinner 
one evening when, friends being with us, an extra number 
of ' accidentals ' had been brought in by F. — his habit, and 
quite usual : Indian hospitality is very elastic. I had 
forgotten the new system then being tried, by another 
friend's advice, namely, to give out the day's supplies on a 
liberal scale, providing enough for extra heads, and to 
superintend this matter — until I saw that some of the dishes 
would not go round ! My husband saw, too, and guessed 
how it had happened. Thinking the best way to help me 
was to face it boldly, he asked me if this were another 
experiment, and so turned the edge of my misery. But 
never again ! 

After that lesson, which I firmly believe was planned 
(for left to himself our ' butler ' would have been equal to 
any emergency), I gave up following any advice except that 
of F.'s which was not to interfere ; then all would be well ; 
we should never go through such horrible moments again ; 
the butler might, perhaps, take toll himself, but he could 
at any rate be trusted to see that no one else did. A lady 
friend also said she believed in leaving native servants 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 9 

alone. That counsel proved the best of all. Yet it was 
not always easy to follow it literally if you saw what went 
on. 

Things wanted hot and crisp, such as toast, are often 
made just outside in the back verandah which every bun- 
galow possesses. That was the case one morning when I 
happened to leave the breakfast-table and step outside for 
an instant. Beside a clear charcoal fire, ideal for making 
toast, a busy servant was squatted rather awkwardly, one 
foot stuck out sideways, the better to serve for a toast-rack, 
and three bits of toast, ready for our breakfast, were stand- 
ing in it already ! Ingenious devices such as this are not 
apt to make one feel like an angel : I took up a bit of toast, 
meaning, no doubt, to throw it away, but threw it at him 
instead. For this impulsive action on my part my husband 
had to pay some £12, the expenses of purification ceremonies 
entailed on the man. He bore me no malice, nor even 
minded very much ; but he, a man, had been hit by a woman, 
in the presence of others ; no matter if the woman were an 
English dursani, the disgrace to him was the same. 

Flitting about the back premises the tunny-ketch may often 
be seen. She is a kitchen helper, generally of the cook's 
providing, sometimes his wife, but that is inadvisable. 
Tunny is Tamil for water, and has reference to some of her 
duties, but the composite word is untranslatable, at any rate 
it has no English equivalent. She it is who feeds the fowls, 
offering to bring her own to peck with yours, that you may 
get more eggs, she says ; and who has to be prevented from 
sticking feathers through the nostrils of broody hens — her 
idea being that it will fidget them and so put them off their 
instinct to sit on their eggs ; who washes the vegetables 
and the rice (woe to her if she leave a stone in it for your 
teeth to find !) ; who makes the most delicious, hot chupatties 1 

1 Chupattties are cakes made of flour and water, light as feathers, though 
unleavened, and must be eaten hot. 



10 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

for breakfast ; who sits before a flat, hollowed stone with 
another — a round one — in her hands, grinding the fresh- 
mint chutneys, and the curry powders and paste. What 
can she not put into them ? unless, as is very likely the case, 
she is grinding her own at the same time and requires 
ingredients for them also. From the least to the greatest, 
every one is at the mercy of the tunny-ketch. Such work 
as she does is infra dig. for a man ; the cook would scorn it. 
Yet, let a master be in difficulties, say he is an ill-paid 
bachelor, or a man trying to send home money to wife and 
children, living as best he can, managing on a tenth of his 
pay with one servant, and everything will be done for him ; 
his curry will be spicy, his rice white, with never a stone 
in it ; he knows not how, he does not ask. The truth is these 
people are contradictions, but they win respect, in some 
cases even love. Not all, however. 

One morning when we were staying at a friend's house 
the tea was very nasty, with what is called ' couch ' about 
it, that is a twang, half-taste, half-smell ; it was sent away 
that fresh might be made, but that proved just as bad, quite 
unaccountably. The next minute some commotion was 
heard, and the tunny-ketch came running from the back 
regions, holding her hands behind her, and crying out that 
she had been burnt by ' chinna putti Cyril Doray ' (little 
Master Cyril), who had taken a piece of flaming wood off 
the fire and laid it across her when she was stooping down. 
As she wore her ' cloth,' 1 like all of her kind, amply folded 
but trained smoothly round her person, it had the better 
chance of being singed through and through, which it cer- 
tainly was. Cyril, the child of the house — a five-year-old 
of much directness of purpose (which in a general way we 
found very engaging) — stood by with an exultant, not 
repentant, air. Being asked why he had done such a 

1 A native woman's dress consists of one long length of coloured 
muslin. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 11 

wicked thing, he said that he had seen her fill the kettle at 
the duck-pond, and that was how he had punished her ! 

One may provide everything in the way of utensils that 
is thought necessary in an English kitchen, but these people 
will prefer their own makeshifts. 

One night, when we were dining out, the soup struck us 
as peculiar ; calling itself ' clear ' it was muddy, and tasted 
of the ' couch ' already mentioned. Our hostess, Mrs. A., 
said she had an idea about it, and she left the table telling 
us not to wait dinner for her. In about a quarter of an 
hour she returned, saying we should have a new cook by 
breakfast-time next morning. She had gone to see whether 
the soup had been strained in the way she guessed, and that 
directly she entered the kitchen she knew she was right, 
for a corner of the cook's own wearing apparel was hanging 
down loose against his leg, wet and wrung looking, with 
tell-tale scraps of vegetables adhering to it ; evidently that 
was what he had used as a strainer. The cloth being very 
thin, and not much of it, the happy thought occurred to her 
to let him try how he liked its flavour, so she ordered him 
to rinse it out in warm water, and then stood by while he 
gulped down the dark decoction ; that he found it anything 
but nice she could see from his face. 

Going into my own kitchen one day a comical and un- 
expected sight met my eye. The cook's children were not 
allowed there, but on this occasion a very small one had 
been smuggled in, and there it was seated on the uncooked 
round of beef just brought from market ! The position 
was no doubt selected as being softer than the floor for its 
small person, and not too high in case it should topple off. 
The child was in gala dress, having on a brand new and stiff 
pink shirt of odd proportions, being very wide for the 
length ; its hair, not yet black, only silkily brown, was 
plaited from temple to temple in a continuous line of but 
a pin's breadth, so few and so fine were the hairs composing 



12 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

it ; the little face seemed all eyes — would have seemed 
weirdly so to one not conversant with native customs — 
owing to the antimony thickly stained round them, deepen- 
ing the curve of the long lashes with its blue-black, inky 
shadows ; the plump wrists and ankles were all a-tinkle 
with silver bangles, enough in themselves to afford happiness 
and occupation to such a being, and the child smiled up at 
me confidingly, knowing no reason why it should not be 
there. The father had turned at my entrance, then, looking 
down at his pulli l as if greatly surprised to see it there — 
probably remembering certain threats on my part — said 
lamely that someone must have brought it in, which was 
quite obvious. However, the little figure was such a perfect 
Cupid in bronze and pink shirt, and the man's pride in its 
adornments, and his solicitude for its present comfort, 
struck me as so touching that I could not say a word as to 
the kitchen, let alone the beef, not being the proper place 
for it. 

Eight o'clock came, and as we sat down to dinner I cannot 
deny that the thought of that round of beef weighed some- 
what upon my mind ; but F., to whom I had told the story, 
said it didn't matter, he should eat it just the same, for after 
all we only knew that one, and comparatively harmless 
stage, in its adventures ere it reached our plates ; generally 
we knew nothing. However, to my surprise — as I had not 
credited the cook with so much tact — the entire menu had 
been changed, that the non-appearance of the beef might 
be less noticeable ; moreover, the cook eclipsed himself 
throughout the meal. 

Another important person in one's household is the tailor, 
always called the durzai ; he it is who does all the mending 
and the making of everyday clothes. One spot in the 
verandah is his by appropriation, and there he spreads his 
mat and takes up his position at nine o'clock every morning, 
1 Child (Tamil). 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 13 

never raising his eyes from his work or uncrossing his 
legs — except, maybe, to recross them the other way — till 
punctually at mid-day he absents himself for a couple of 
hours, then back to his stitching again till five o'clock, when 
he walks off. The durzai cannot originate, but he can copy 
a pattern to a fault ; patches even may be reduplicated, so 
conscientious is he ; sad cases of such a mistake are on 
record. So clever is he that he will darn an unlucky cut in 
the best tablecloth with a thread or two drawn from the 
cloth itself, so that none shall be able to find the place again ; 
or he will deal with a rent in the baize of club or mess-room 
billiard table in such a manner that not a ball will swerve 
there. Men not in regular employment as durzais go up 
and down the country doing this last sort of work only, and 
find plenty to occupy them ; they carry with them some 
green cloth, and that supplies their darning material. 

If, however, the verandah durzai is very clever, and has 
his virtues, he is also generally very obstinate ; this arises 
from his conservatism, the inherited bent of the durzai 
mind on which fashion has no influence. 

My durzai was once making me some muslin dresses at 
a time when I was daily expecting a box from England, and 
the cutting-out of the sleeves had been postponed awaiting 
its arrival. When the box came the new fashion in sleeves 
was specially pointed out for his admiration, but he shook 
his head with disapproval : ' Not nice hump, plenty smooth 
nice,' meaning that the old, close-fitting shape was the 
proper one, whereas these were very full, and raised at the 
shoulders ; and he actually suggested that they should be 
cut down to the old pattern ! I was of a different opinion, 
however, and bade him cut the muslin by the new pattern. 
It did strike me that he was extra obstinate about what 
he called ' the hump,' but knowing that he well understood 
my wishes I left him to his work, little guessing how far he 
would carry his determination. When I went round again 



14 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

it was to find that not only had he cut the new muslin by 
the old pattern, but he had mutilated the beauteous sleeves 
of the three English frocks down to his own ideas of what 
was right ! 

As may be supposed, for quite a long time I felt anything 
but angelic about this, and much like sending the durzai 
away with an allusion to his dominating trait at the end of 
his ' character ' ; only I knew that, on having it read to 
him, he had it in his power to hinder my getting another 
good durzai in his place. Many a time such reflections held 
one in check with regard to native servants and subordinates. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 15 



CHAPTER II 

The cardamom forests — Hamadryads — An easy palanquin — Jail in- 
dustries — Burmese dacoits — Mode of travelling — The Churmers — 
Porters and their chants — Machans — Beauties of the forest — 
Pishashas — A clever travelling cook — Ayah and bear — Smallpox 
scare. 

The gathering of the cardamom crop was the occasion of 
one of my earliest forest expeditions, starting from our then 
headquarters, Coimbatore. 

Cardamoms are a government monopoly, and a rigorously 
guarded one. The spice is rather expensive ; it is largely 
used in India, but not half appreciated in this country. 
Those who do not know the plant must imagine tiny, 
gummy, black seeds (which constitute the spice, and are 
most aromatic and delicate), closely packed in a small husk, 
or bag, about as big as a currant. It grows on low bushes, 
and the forest tracts where it is found are not very safe ; 
at least I took care, when we were up there, not to wander 
far, in case the story were true as to certain fearful snakes 
which are said to live in them — hamadryads, or snake- 
eating snakes, which will chase human beings — perchance 
catch them up, too — but are, fortunately, not very numerous, 
thanks to their own cannibalism. 

When we were to encamp pretty high up, the way I mostly 
travelled, if not riding, was in a palanquin carried by several 
men. Mine had been made for me at the local jail, and 
was a very light affair of cane or rattan, cushioned, and fitted 
with iron bars, and having two rings for a bamboo pole to 
pass through, overhead, so that the person within could 
be carried without jolting, and be able either to sit up or he 



16 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

down. An awning was stretched over the pole, fastening, 
at will, to the sides of the palanquin. This palanquin was 
made from F.'s design, and the kind became quite a feature 
of the jail industries. 

Regarding these industries, a few words may here be said. 
In the jails of India work is provided for convicts, some 
of whom, when their life sentences (twenty years) have 
expired, are allowed to marry and settle down in the 
neighbourhood of the jail, having become attached to their 
now familiar surroundings. These men — Malays, Burmese, 
Chinese, together with their odd-featured progeny, thus 
form small colonies of good and industrious citizens, frater- 
nising with all around them. 

The prisoners are taught many trades, one being the 
weaving of a noted cloth for sporting purposes : this is 
called shikar cloth, and is of a heather-mixture colour (a 
sort of brown-green leaf tint) so as to be unnoticeable 
amongst the forest foliage — a most vital point ! It is 
made of a very strongly- twisted cotton fibre, so tough and 
untearable as to turn, and resist thorns. And it need be 
strong, for some of the thorns are small spikes, such as 
those of the ' wait-a-bit ' — a descriptive name enough — 
and of many other shrubs. Thickets of these need tough 
clothes, and a good axe, to get through them at all, there- 
fore one's servants and the camp staff, peons, etc., are pro- 
vided with plenty of suitable clothing of this shikar cloth. 
How the baggage coolies make their way without being 
scratched and torn to pieces is a wonder, for their modicum 
of apparel is small protection ; certainly the weight of it 
counts for nothing at all. My own jungle costume was a 
Norfolk jacket (with cartridge belt and numerous pockets) 
and a short skirt, also made of shikar cloth. 

In these jails, besides cloth, they weave table and house- 
hold linen ; some white, and of coarse texture, and some, of 
the very daintiest damask imaginable, in colours. Furniture 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 17 

too is made, in ebony and teak (the Indian oak), with 
wonderfully intricate ' diamond '-patterned canework, for 
chairs, couches, and the like. 

All this seems rather like an advertisement for the jails, 
but it is simply written down as one among many pleasant 
memories of the land, beloved, as I believe, by every 
one who has made their home there for any length of 
time. 

A Parsee jailer who showed us round one of these places 
told us about the Burmese dacoits, 1 that they have a strange 
custom of embedding their jewels and gems — stolen, or 
legitimate property — in the fleshy parts of their bodies, 
where, being invisible, they are secure. The convict who 
was asked to show us his treasures, or rather to let us feel 
the hard lumps, which were in reality those precious stones, 
was plainly proud to do so. The very tiniest scars remained, 
showing where incisions had been made in order to force 
the stones into the flesh, which had completely closed over 
them and healed. There were dozens of such places on the 
arms, shoulders, and thighs of this man, who was a noted 
dacoit, or had been so in his time ; his sentence was nearly 
out now, and he was to be sent back to his own country, 
taking his worldly wealth, very literally, with him. He had 
learnt three trades in the jail ; but his father before him 
having served a term in Burmah for dacoity, he might very 
likely, as he himself candidly said, take up the paternal 
occupation again on his release. 

When we were travelling my ayah preferred to be carried 
in a country contrivance, which was just a large armchair 
slung between poles, and having a foot-rest ; quite easy, 
but not adapted for lying down in. 

The road for some sixty miles from headquarters was 
good enough for riding ; that is, till we reached the foot 
of the hills, when the climbing began. Servants, dogs, 

1 Highway robbers and murderers. 
B 



18 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

baggage, etc., came on in bullock-carts travelling at a very 
slow rate, and covering on an average not more than two 
miles an hour. Some, however, had been sent on ahead 
with supplies. 

Amongst our post-bullocks, as far as we could prevent it, 
there was no tail-twisting or breaking — the method adopted 
all over India to induce these deliberate animals to hurry. 
The poor creatures may be seen with their tails in perfect 
zigzags owing to this practice. Nothing maddened me 
more when travelling in a hired coach than to hear the 
sickening snap and crack of the joints as the driver applied 
this torture to his ' biles.' * He would not do it more than 
once on that journey, you may be sure, though no doubt 
he thought, privately, that he had some strange kind of 
idiot as a fare ! 

On one occasion when we gave up riding, the track being 
too steep, at least for my nerves, and not affording any 
pleasant footing for the horses themselves if weighted, a 
set of little people were in readiness to carry me in my 
palanquin. They had engaged to do so, that is to say. 
Very quaint they were ; not professional bearers, but 
leather-workers, or rather tanners, and therefore of the 
lowest caste, almost outcast, as one might express it ; for no 
one else associates with them, their trade in the skins of 
killed animals forbidding it. No other bearers were avail- 
able just then or there for a short distance, or we 
should never have employed the unpleasant little creatures 
at all. 

Their native name I am not now sure of, though I think 
it was ' Churmers ' : they were very dark-skinned, with 
shocks of black hair ; small and squat and very lightly 
clothed, and very, very evil-smelling. Two men of the real 
bearer sort would have sufficed for such a light palanquin 
as mine — with relays, of course — but it took four of these 

1 Bullocks. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 19 

little porters at a time, so ten were engaged to make it easy 
for them ; four and four, change about, and two over in 
case of breakdown. 

A short trial by these gentlemen of the palanquin with 
me in it (though I only weighed seven stone in those days) 
convinced them that it was beyond their strength — sheer 
cruelty to force them to it — and they began to cry so piteously 
and noisily that it was quite impossible to go on causing 
such suffering. Those trying to bear up under the burden 
cried, those who had relinquished it cried, and the two 
odd ones cried in anticipation. Essaying the climb myself, 
clinging to the strong creepers and vines everywhere to 
one's hand, seemed preferable to sitting between four 
sobbing and perspiring mortals. That they really suffered 
it was impossible to believe, for no sooner had they set me 
down, with a great show of care and with very loud and 
needless grunts of exhaustion and relief, than they picked 
up that featherweight of an empty palanquin, forgetting to 
change hands with it in their glee, and scrambled along like 
monkeys ; chattering, too, like monkeys, and showing their 
brilliantly white teeth : no more tears ! 

But this plan did not answer ; I could not get along very 
fast, and we had the ascent to make before the sun should 
get too powerful. Fortunately the peons 1 were able before 
long to find four stout hill-men willing to undertake the 
required duty. The difficulty at the moment we had wanted 
bearers was due to the fact that a very special festival was 
in full swing, from which no one could, or wished to, be 
spared, barring the poor little Churmers aforesaid. Their 
company was never wanted, owing, among other reasons, to 
their repulsive manner of feeding on anything and every- 
thing — carrion for choice : of living things they liked 

1 Pronounced pewns. Government servants (corresponding somewhat to 
orderlies in military service) who always attended F. and all Government 
officials. 



20 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



grubs and horrible-looking larvae — horrible, that is, regarded 
as food ; of dead, the longer dead the better. 

These new men, two and two, to change with each other — 
no more, though not professional bearers — made nothing 
of their burden, chanting rhythmically the while, with deep 
chest notes, in perfect time and harmony, as they kept step. 

BEARERS' CHANT. 



E^=eE« 



E 



SEgEf =F=f =£EgEEEEgj Eg 



Ha! ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! ha! 



-i 1 1 — 



:£=f=£z-£: 



f f f 



Hoo ! 



ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! 



ha! ha! ha! ha! 



PP-= 




ha! ha! ha! ha! Hoo! 

I can recall those chants now, and always greatly enjoyed 
those journeys if for them alone. Bearers, boatmen, 
sawyers, axemen — all have their distinctive chants, differ- 
ing in the various localities and presidencies of India. Carry- 
ing loads is no effort to professional bearers, though they 
could not do so long or so straining a day's work in the 
fields, or in any other way, certain sets of muscles having 
been cultivated at the expense of the rest. To illustrate 
this, I remember seeing a frail-looking old woman bent 
beneath her load, which was a very long one, of thin branches 
for firewood. She was carrying it on her head with a cloth 
pad under it ; it turned out to be for our use, and the old 
woman the grandmother of one of our syces, or grooms. 
Her load weighed sixty pounds ! She was so accustomed to 
it as to be surprised at my surprise. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 21 

When the hill was breasted, and we had reached our 
halting-place, my four bearers put me down quietly, with- 
out fuss or visible and embarrassing signs of relief : they 
grinned at me in a friendly way, these stalwarts, pleased 
to have accomplished the ascent, and, I think, proud of their 
own thews and muscles. It had been a stiff climb, and it 
was easy to make them understand how much appreciated 
and admired was their superior strength. These men, who 
belonged to the Kurumber tribe, were old acquaintances of 
F.'s — quite old friends, indeed, from having shared many 
a night's vigil or long tramp with him on previous tours 
hereabout, particularly two of them, named Botha and Ika. 
A very little will make friends for you of these most simple 
folk, and ever afterwards the Dursani (mistress), who had 
not hitherto appeared on the scene, was bracketed in their 
loyalty and affection with the Doray (master) : greater could 
not be — he was their ideal. Of good caste, finely built, 
with keen, steady-eyed faces, all were clever shots with 
their bows and arrows and treasured old muzzle-loaders. 
Breech-loaders they did not possess, and most intensely 
interested were they in F.'s battery, for he had a great 
variety of guns and rifles. One little beauty, by Holland 
& Holland, a miniature Express, was mine, and they were 
never tired of looking at its delicate mechanism ; but for 
the heavy elephant rifle they felt nothing less than awe. 
Most of their time in camp was spent, by hours together, 
enviously watching the peons rub up and clean these 
treasures ; their delight and pride was to be set to cast 
bullets for them. Whenever we were in that neighbour- 
hood that special quartette attended us in our expeditions, 
with others of their own choosing, who, they saw to it, were 
to be trusted for carrying spare rifles or for sitting up all 
night with the Doray in trees, on a machan — pronounced 
machawn — to shoot a marauding panther. 

A machan is a platform made of bamboos or boughs, 



22 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

woven very strongly and firmly, and fixed from limb to 
limb of some suitably high tree. From this safe perch 
watch is kept over a ' kill ' — some slain animal, to which 
the slayer is expected to return. But that is not the way 
used with tigers, be it understood. 

For the above-mentioned duty the chosen men must be 
warranted never to sneeze or cough, or to drop — still less 
to let off — a rifle, out of sheer excitement, as has happened 
only too often in the experience of many a shikari. 1 But 
this is a digression. 

What a wonderful climb that was ! To make any going 
possible the men in advance hewed and hacked to right and 
left through a scene of beauty and marvel of which a Kew 
palm-house can give but a faint suggestion. Everywhere 
magnificent giant creepers, some delicate as wreaths of 
English clematis with gossamer-woven flowers ; others so 
weird-looking as to be almost repellent, with their snake- 
like stems, thick as one's arm, and strange blood-spotted 
blossoms — all clinging like iron bands for strength, and, 
for all their delicacy, equally impassable. The most en- 
chanting ferneries were cut, or torn through, at every step, 
only to open the way to wilder extravagances of fantastic 
loveliness. Familiar though it all was to F., yet never los- 
ing its charm — the greater, indeed, owing to his botanical 
knowledge — to me it was a perfect poem for beauty, hitherto 
unseen and unimagined. India is the only tropical land 
I know, so I can make no comparisons, but at any rate 
nothing can surpass the fairy grandeur of those wild jungles. 

One tree there is with which the forest seems ablaze when 
it is in blossom — the ' flame-of-the-forest,' as it is fitly 
named. The petals are shaped like a parrot's beak, and 
are of a vivid orange-scarlet. Another, the sumponghi 
(champak it is also called), has ivory-hued flowers, shaded 
and deepening into yellow at the base, and these last are 

1 Sportsman. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 23 

intoxicatingly sweet. The ' geranium tree ' is just what 
its name describes, a great forest tree with the loveliest 
geranium flowers, in velvety pink or mauve, like pelar- 
goniums. 

And the rhododendrons ! The full splendour of these 
trees is indeed unknown till seen, as here, in their native 
land, where they are not so much forest trees as the very 
forest itself : a whole hillside will be clothed with them. 
I have in my mind just now certain slopes on the Nilgiris. 
Their growth is that of an oak — spreading ; their foliage is 
of a deep, shining green, which in season is enamelled with 
clustered blossom effulgent with glowing crimson or white 
as driven snow. The remembrance of their glory is a 
possession rather than a memory. 

It was late when we reached the top — or the first place 
we came to that was sufficiently level to serve for a night's 
halt. There is no twilight in the tropics, and it is dark at 
noonday in those forest depths. F. decided to go no 
farther, chancing it that four jungle paths met just there, 
showing these to be regular routes for wild animals. Up 
there men would be rare indeed ; there is nothing to take them 
there, except at such times as the ingathering of the carda- 
mom crop, and then only authorised persons, in bands ; 
singly they would not venture into such solitudes on any 
account — too many pishashas, or devils, about ! For 
Europeans there is never anything to be feared at any time, 
except from the chance and rare presence of a solitary 
1 tusker ' or ' man-eater ' tiger. 

Very soon the cook was to be seen squatting before his 
notion of a range — a row of stones placed at suitable dis- 
tances for the accommodation of the various cooking pots, 
each with its fire of crackling sticks beneath. Dinner-time 
being eight o'clock at home he would contrive, if possible, 
even amidst the exigences of travel, that we should find 
no difference. The cooking was his sole business, nothing 



24 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

else concerned him, except the previous superintending 
of all his utensils, and the ' Europe-tins ' and supplies 
generally, so that everything needful might be forthcoming 
for him to set to work directly a halt was called. The larger 
camp commissariat department was in the hands of others, 
and included the providing of great quantities of rice for 
the entire camp use, and the dogs ; gram and other food 
for the horses, bullocks, etc. ; curry stuff (that is, chillies, 
dried fish, and such things) and tobacco for the men ; medi- 
cine and other necessaries ; but of the cook no more was 
expected than the preparing of our meals. 

We had a double staff of servants : those attending on 
us at home, or headquarters, remained there, as their 
families could neither be left nor brought with us, for they 
and their families cannot be separated for long. The camp, 
or travelling staff might have their encumbrances too, but 
they managed their own affairs in their own way, never 
bringing them on the scene. 

Dinner announced, there would be the never-failing soup, 
chicken cutlets, curry — tinned lobster was our first favourite 
— and some sweet, with coffee to wind up. The cook had 
no idea of forfeiting his good name as a ' travelling cook ' 
for such trifles as brokendown carts or burnt bridges ; the 
greater the odds the more he strove to eclipse himself. I 
have known ices and iced wine and coffee to appear, as a 
matter of course, under circumstances seemingly impossible 
for more than a biscuit or two. No one shall ever say a word 
against native servants in my hearing ! 

The ayah was just as clever in her way as the cook ; never 
any telling wanted. We had folding cots, and she would 
sleep on her mat on the ground with her blankets and hard 
pillow — her usual habit — in a corner of the tent or close 
beside my feet. 

The camp furniture was soon arranged, dhurries being 
spread over the earth floor and hung snugly around. These 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 25 

are thick cotton rugs, made in all manner of bright colours, 
wearing and washing as not many English fabrics would. 

But my poor ayah ! She had not reckoned on everything 
that befell us that night, and the first was her last in those 
wilds ; for when all was quiet, and our people, our animals, 
and we ourselves settled to sleep, I heard a curious, un- 
familiar sound, as of something snuffing round the tent 
sides. At first I fancied it might be the ayah snoring, rolled 
up in her muffling blankets ; but no, it was deeper-chested 
than that ! 

I whispered to rouse F., who, however, needed no one 
to do that for him, his attention being always on the qui 
vive — on a hair-trigger, as one might express it — in his 
beloved jungles, where it truly is the unexpected that mostly 
happens. 

He got up quietly, lifted the tent-fly, and went out into 
the night ' to frighten something away,' he said, when he 
came back again. It turned out to be a bear inquisitively 
poking his nose under the tent without having any designs 
on us — wondering only as to what he had come upon, and 
quite content to take himself off unharmed. 

I can truly say that, though excited and greatly interested, 
I was not one whit afraid. But my ayah ! Nothing could 
induce her to stay another day, let alone a night, in these, 
to her, awful jungles ; so we had to arrange for her to be 
conveyed back to civilisation, and I made shift without her. 
Her description of the dangers and terrors which service 
with this D&ray and Dursani led people into must have gone 
the round of the ayah sisterhood, for though we tried, by 
holding out tempting promises of double pay, none could 
be persuaded to come to me. However, had one been so 
procured, the same poor-spiritedness would quite likely have 
caused her to be more of a clog on our travelling than we 
liked, so it was just as well as it was. 

The day after the ayah's departure one of the peons fell 



26 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

ill. We suspected smallpox at once, and this it turned out 
to be, declaring itself unmistakably. Of course, he had to 
be carried down immediately to the hospital at Coimbatore, 
the nearest town, and our headquarters. It was a distressing 
journey for a sick, fevered man ; the very rough, jolting 
descent to the foot of the hills, to begin with, and then a 
sixty-mile stretch of well-nigh shadeless road ; but the level 
portion was quickly covered, as arrangements were made 
with the Tahsildars l to have plenty of fresh bearers in readi- 
ness that the litter might go with the least delay possible. 
Though marked, the man recovered, to our infinite relief , for 
he was an especially valued and trusted servant. No one 
else took the infection ; but scares like this are upsetting for 
the time, and we felt uneasy for days. Nothing could be 
done, however, so we had to chance it and be hopeful. 

We always had a good supply of medicines, lint, and so 
on with us, and ordinary fever or accident cases F. could 
deal with himself ; he had plenty of practice in both ! A 
man is said to be either a fool or a physician by the time 
he is forty ; my husband was not forty then ; but living, as 
we did for months together, far away from a medical man, 
experience had taught him, at any rate, the ' next best ' to 
do in all cases. 

1 Head-men of villages and in Government service. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 27 



CHAPTER III 

Elephants, and native methods of harnessing — F.'s reforms — Intelligence 
of elephants — Rama — Lantana — Tree-felling — Toddy and the toddy 
palm — 'Must' — Elephant and rice — The elephant as nurse — 
Elephant and Mr. W. — The Doray to the rescue. 

In the timber-haulage department of the Forest Service a 
large number of elephants were employed, and the treat- 
ment customarily meted out to these animals was a constant 
source of trouble to F. For five years we were stationed 
in one district, The Wynad, headquarters Manantavadi, 
commonly called Manantoddy, comprising the slopes of 
the coffee-growing areas, and during that time he happily 
succeeded in bringing about a system very different from 
the one in vogue when we first went there. 

The native method causes awful suffering, the chains 
and ropes being fastened to the great teeth of the patient 
animal, forcing them from their sockets, and giving rise 
to abscesses and injuries of all kinds, to be aggravated by 
heat and flies. 

Also, unless seen to, it would be a very exceptional 
mahout 1 that would think of bestirring himself to take off 
the pad on his beast's back when halting — a necessary pre- 
caution, for under this pad horrible sores sometimes fester. 

An elephant which had been thus misused in native 
hands was sent up to us in the ordinary way for employ- 
ment in the forests, not at all as a patient for treatment. 
The poor thing was a shocking sight ! Before shooting an 
elephant, whether tame or in a wild state, a ' permit ' is 
necessary. This F. could easily have obtained on represen- 

1 The man who tends an elephant and drives him, seated on his head. 



28 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

tation that the animal was past cure, but he preferred 
giving it the chance of life. With wounds and sores in all 
parts of its body, its tail seemed in the worst and most 
hopeless condition, what with flies, heat, and neglect. A 
swift, sharp stroke best did the work there, and a curative 
process was started. By dint of poulticing, cleanliness, 
and taking down to the river to bathe and plaster itself 
with the healing mud — for elephants know very well how 
to doctor themselves with river mud and herbage if allowed 
the opportunity — he was gradually brought round. We 
petitioned for our patient to be permanently transferred 
to our establishment ; and so he was, becoming in our hands 
a different creature, fairly strong, and useful for light work, 
such as fetching fodder of boughs and leaves for other 
elephants who were equal to a harder strain ; he was so very 
docile, too, that I liked to keep him for my own riding. 
Suffering in the past had not spoiled that poor animal's 
temper ; quite the opposite, for I should think a gentler 
beast was never known. A very comfortable seat was 
arranged for me on his back, to which eminence I climbed 
easily, helped by the cleverly accommodating hind foot 
held out for me to stand upon, the elephant kneeling the 
while. 

One of F.'s most beneficial reforms was the harness he 
planned, and caused to be used, so as to utilise the full 
strength of the working elephant without all the pull being 
so disastrously on the teeth. The Indian Government 
acknowledged this, and it became (in theory) the standing 
method in all the districts under its jurisdiction ; but 
natives are too conservative for such innovations to be 
easily brought into use, even when to their own advantage, 
keeping in old ruts for no better reason than that their fore- 
fathers went in them. 

Not a word too much could ever be said for the intelli- 
gence and common-sense of elephants. To some folks all 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 29 

animals are dear ; to us they were most surely so without 
exception, but very specially so were the elephants with 
whom we had so much to do. Without speech themselves, 
yet comprehending every word spoken to them in the 
vernacular of their native province : Hindustani if they 
were from Bengal ; Cingalese if from Ceylon ; Burmese 
if from Burmah ; and so on, according to the part from 
which they came. 

As a general rule the mahout will become attached to his 
charge, and be kind to him as far as his lights lead him. 

On one occasion several elephants had been brought to 
us for temporary stabling, and we were walking about 
amongst them as they were tethered here and there in our 
'compound,' * when upon my offering a lettuce to a very 
tame old fellow he took it from my hand in his trunk, 
snuffed at it, and then quietly turned it back towards me. 
My husband told me they did not care for lettuces, and not 
to tease him. I tried again, nevertheless, and again Rama 
took the lettuce, returning it ever so gently, but eyeing me 
the while. I had had my warning, yet foolishly persisted, 
and, for the third time, held out the lettuce. Again it was 
accepted, not snuffed at this time, but flung right back in 
my face ! Lucky for me it was only a lettuce. Grand old 
Rama ! He looked so dignified all the time, making me 
feel very silly ; but I never teased him again. We made 
friends, then and there, with jaggheri, which is the native 
form of sugar, very dark and treacly, and made in the shape 
of three-inch square, hollow blocks. Elephants are greedy 
for it, or indeed for anything sweet. 

Rama was said to be one hundred and sixty years old. 
He could make the others mind him, proving conclusively 
that the human method is not the only means of com- 
munication between living creatures. 

1 Grounds surrounding a bungalow, in part uncultivated, and used for the 
pasturage of horses, bullocks, cows, and other purposes. 



30 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

The elephants brought into our grounds were bound to 
be highly trained, or they would have stampeded at the 
very smell of the horses, or even of the stables, being natur- 
ally terrified at them ; whereas the horses did not mind or 
take the least notice of them. As it was, it spoke well for 
their mahouts that no accidents ever occurred ; all these 
elephants stood feeding quietly, while the horses grazed 
beside them. 

When we were travelling, if elephants were with us they 
had to be kept apart, all not being so amenable ; and if we 
came upon the track of wild ones great caution was neces- 
sary, as they too would stampede, rushing madly about any- 
where, and be upon us overwhelmingly, so much alarmed 
are these animals at horses or the faintest whiff of them. 

While the tame elephants mentioned above were with us 
the opportunity was taken for clearing the hill upon which 
our house was perched of the thick scrub growing all over 
it, dangerously near to the house itself as affording too con- 
venient cover for lurking panthers in wait for the dogs. 
This scrub consisted entirely of Lantana bushes, of which 
the flowers are most commonly orange, shading into red, 
but there are also delicate pink and pure white varieties, 
the scent being exactly like that of the English flowering 
currant. When I returned to England on a visit a few 
years after this, it was curious to be shown, in a conser- 
vatory and most carefully nurtured and valued, a small 
plant of this same Lantana which we had regarded as a 
persistent nuisance, flourishing everywhere, for nothing 
killed it, while it choked everything else. So the elephants 
were set to grub it up by the roots, and this they did most 
cleverly and effectually all by themselves. They found out 
the best way with each bush ; the smaller ones they cleared 
off first, as easily as you would pull up the weeds in a flower- 
bed ; the larger ones, which were very tough, with strong, 
gnarled branches and most tenacious roots, they also 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 31 

negotiated without any fuss at all : it was only play to them. 
Looping the rope, and twisting it round the bush once or 
twice at the bottom, close to the ground — making it just 
tight enough to obtain a good hold without fear of snapping 
off — they would then walk away, sometimes backwards, 
sometimes forwards, just according to the growth of the 
roots, the direction of which they seemed able to guess. 
Effort there was, and pull there was, but none that could 
be seen. All you saw was the ground giving and cracking 
as the bush came up, roots and all ; never once did they 
allow a bit of the plant to break off short, only to grow 
again, as the men often did. 

An interesting and instructive, indeed almost humiliating, 
thing it is, too, to watch elephants at work in a timber-yard. 
The way they stack logs, or draw out any particular one 
indicated without disturbing the stack, letting its place 
be filled up by surrounding ones, is something to be wit- 
nessed, not described. An elephant knows to a nicety the 
measure of his own strength : what he can and what he 
cannot do ; it is the height of folly to interfere, or dictate 
to him, in the arrogance of human wisdom, against his 
unerring instinct. To watch a tree felled with an elephant's 
help is enough to make one recognise and respect some 
unnamed sense in him that men lack. The forest axemen 
appreciate this to the full. 

Rama was the one always chosen for any special task 
needing great judgment. I often saw him thus engaged 
when a huge tree had to be felled. On one occasion, I 
remember, it was of such height and girth that it would 
have been risky for the men to be anywhere near at the 
last, in case it should give way too suddenly or lurch over 
sideways. But it could not fall backwards, so Rama's busi- 
ness was to push it over when the two axemen had hewn 
deeply enough to make that possible ; and when that 
moment had come he was to be the judge. 



32 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

A space was first cleared for the giant's fall where nothing 
could be harmed. Rama was evidently the brain of the 
three partners, for they consulted him when pretty well 
through the trunk by stopping and looking at him, which 
meant that he was to test it to see whether they should 
go on cutting any longer, and if so, at what point to aim 
their blows. He knew by trying with his forehead what 
resisting power was left ; how he knew is the marvel, for 
no one could teach him that, but know he did. It was 
supremely interesting to watch him stand with his grand 
head pressed against the trunk, every muscle in his body 
taut, but only for a few seconds, not to waste his strength ; 
then, if his judgment declined the task, he would step aside 
for the axemen to put in another ringing stroke or two ; 
and again it was their turn to stand by while partner Rama 
made another trial. He knew, without having been taught, 
the old axiom of the weakest point, and brought all his 
strength to bear upon that. As soon as he was satisfied 
the men were so, nor would they have dared an extra blow. 
Not having his intuitive knowledge they left it to him, their 
own safety included. When Rama's instinct told him he 
could do it he did not move aside, only lifted his head 
and looked all round, in a way that said plainly enough 
that the time had come for all to keep clear, that he was 
now going to pit himself against the tree, and that the tree 
would have to go. Not till every one was at a safe distance 
would he begin. Then again lowering his head he pressed 
and pressed, with forehead and bent knee, while the tree 
creaked and groaned, and fell over just where it was meant 
to fall. The three, men and elephant, were trembling, for 
it had been a task of strength and nerve for all of them. 
Then the axemen did a pretty thing ; they went up to old 
Rama and downright kissed him, rubbing their faces against 
his! 

After such exhibitions of special skill we used to give a 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 33 

treat to the men and animals, to each something they liked 
— tobacco and grog to the former ; sweetened rice and 
lumps of their ever- welcome jaggheri to the latter ; grog too, 
for the elephants also relished half a cocoanut-shellful of 
arrack ! ora tot of toddy ! It was by such little kindnesses 
as this, costing nothing, that my husband was able to get 
better work out of his people, and consequently out of their 
charges, than other officers who were without his knack. 

That same toddy just mentioned is an intoxicating and 
very easily procured native drink, being the liquor ob- 
tained from the toddy palm. An incision is made at the 
top of the tall, slender stem below its feathery crown, and 
an earthenware pot containing a little lime is tied there 
overnight that the sap may drain into it. You may often 
see a grove of these palm trees all furnished with their pots. 
In the early morning, before sunrise — for later the fermen- 
tation would be too rapid, and so spoil the toddy — the men 
climb up by means of big-toe notches, and a rope ring 
enclosing themselves and the tree trunk so that they may 
not fall, and bring away the potful of toddy, cleverly 
balanced on their heads. 

Both in the tame and in the wild state elephants are 
subject to strange attacks of frenzy — a sort of madness for 
the time being — and while under its influence are dangerous 
to all with whom they come into contact. This condition 
is called ' must,' and needs special treatment for its cure. 
The native method of subduing one thus affected is by semi- 
starvation, and by ordering other elephants first to help 
fasten the victim up securely and then to beat him into 
submission with chains ; all of which they can, and do, 
carry out. The result is that after such an attack and its 
' cure ' the patient is a mere wreck from blows and want of 
food — more dead than alive. With rare exceptions Euro- 
peans also follow this plan, at any rate by leaving the 

1 A sort of country rum. 
C 



34 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

matter in native hands, as the least trouble to themselves. 
My husband's method was very different ; better both from 
the common-sense point of view and that of humanity. 
When an elephant was reported ' must ' he would order him 
to be fed well with plenty of everything that he liked best 
to eat, such as sugary rice made up into great balls for his 
better convenience ; fruit, and jaggheri of course, to any 
amount — all these things doctored with calming, soporific 
medicines and herbs. Opium, too, was to be given in 
measured doses ; and he was to be kept in a darkened place, 
away from exciting scenes, and to have an entire rest from 
labour. The effects of this treatment would soon be seen, 
and when all was over our elephant would be himself again, 
none the worse for it ; neither was any one else, as often 
happens in the case of the more usual brutality cure. The 
cause of these fits of frenzy is unknown ; they are not con- 
nected exclusively with mating seasons, and may come on 
at any time, though at rare intervals : some elephants, 
again, never have one at all. 

These creatures besides being clever are most delightfully 
artful. One very bright moonlight evening whilst camping 
on the Brahmagiris, a spur of the Western Ghats, reached 
from The Wynad, we were sitting out in the cool after dinner 
when one of the elephants somehow contrived to unhobble 
himself, and walked away from his own quarters into ours. 
We saw him go up to a sleeping native, snuff at his pillow, 
and then, ever so gently, draw it away with his trunk, edging 
his own foot the while under the man's head and shoulders 
that no jerk might be felt. The pillow was a bag of rice, put 
there for safety against pilferers ! Although tied up in a 
knot the bag was deftly opened and its contents munched 
up to the last grain, the thief looking watchfully round him 
the while. We were not likely to disappoint him of his 
cleverly won feast, as he seemed to know ; for, just letting 
his tiny eyes rest on us unconcernedly for a second or two, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 35 

he fell to considering his next move. Drawing a stone 
towards him with the ever-handy trunk he got it under the 
empty sack, and worked both together under the man's 
head ; he then stealthily withdrew his own propping foot, 
and having waited no longer than was necessary to make 
sure he had left all safe, he moved off. The man never 
stirred, and no doubt slept till morning, so we did not see 
his consternation, comical as that must have been. His 
loss was, of course, made good to him, though we told no 
tales. 

An elephant will never tread on any of the miscellaneous 
camp belongings lying about ; if any are on the path he 
picks them up or pushes them aside, injuring nothing. 
One did that while I was riding him, without my noticing, 
till I saw the sackful of weighty copper pots he had lifted and 
placed on the bank. 

On one occasion we saw a mahout's wife convoyed into 
camp by their elephant, who had her by the hair ! He had 
wound his trunk round it, and was marching her along, not 
roughly but purposefully. She had been bathing, and he 
evidently knew where to find her, and did so ; it seemed she 
was wanted for something, or he thought so, but for what 
I have now forgotten. 

A mahout's wife will not hesitate to put her sleeping baby 
into the charge of their elephant, either laying it in the 
hollow of the curved, expectant trunk as in a cradle, where 
you may see the mite dandled to and fro evenly and gently, 
or putting it beside him on the ground, knowing that the 
child is as safe in that jealous care as with herself for as 
long as she chooses to be gone. 

The trunk is the most exquisitely sensitive part of an 
elephant's body ; a blow on it from a stick in a child's tiny 
hand will make him squeal with pain, as I saw and heard 
myself one day when a cunning old fellow, having sniffed 
them, got nearer and nearer to the hut where rice bags, 



36 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

jaggheri, and other things were stored. With felonious 
intent he began feeling round through a gap in the hurdle- 
like wall when a child within struck the greedy trunk, and 
it was swiftly drawn back with a cry. 

I think it was during the same expedition that one of our 
elephants paid the camp an afternoon visit on his own 
account, during working hours too, giving those present 
at the time something of a fright thereby from the inde- 
pendent air about him. F. was out shooting pigeons, and 
in any case the occurrence would not have disturbed him. 
In camp, besides the servants and myself, was a naturalist 
friend, Mr. W., who was spending his three months' leave 
with us, sharing our jungle life. About four o'clock every- 
thing was quiet, and coffee had just been brought in by the 
ayah, when I heard Mr. W. calling me, and sent her to inquire 
the reason. She never got so far as his hut, but came 
running back immediately to say that one of the elephants 
was out there, all by himself — no mahout ! Yes, indeed, 
there he stood, gazing about him placidly and good- 
humouredly enough ; but there was no telling what he 
might take it into his head to do on finding himself his 
own master, which he certainly was for any of us. Our only 
idea was to keep him thus good-humoured by plying him 
with food until he should be missed and fetched away, 
which would surely be before long. The servants brought 
all they could lay hands on : cocoanuts, cotton-seed (the 
bullocks' food), gram (meant for the horses), rice, sugar, 
whatever there was. These being put before him he fed 
himself happily, but it all disappeared so fast that I feared 
for our resources, and also that he might tire of what we 
gave him and begin to forage around. We shouldn't have 
dared to say him nay ! 

Presently Mr. W. spied half a cocoanut, and without 
looking first to see whether it were full or empty threw it 
towards the elephant, who, the instant he saw it was a mere 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 37 

shell, lost his temper, or seemed to do so, for he trumpeted, 
and put his foot upon it, crushing it flat ; then he alter- 
nately lifted and dropped that sledge-hammer foot with 
a threatening air, as much as to say he had a mind to serve 
us the same for tricking him with an empty shell ! Too 
late, Mr. W. perceived the effect of his mistake, and looked 
thoroughly miserable. But how to pacify the elephant was 
beyond us ; he had eaten all that we had at hand to give 
him, and the servants dared not stir a foot to get more. 
We were completely at a loss ; but help was not far off, for 
at this critical moment who should appear but the Doray 
himself — never more welcome ! Taking in the situation 
at a glance, he called out something in Hindustani to the 
elephant, just as one would speak to a reasonable being, 
and with the same result : the uplifted foot was dropped, 
and the whole demeanour of the animal changed. Exactly 
like a defiant child who knows his master when told to 
behave, he allowed himself to be ordered off to his own 
part of the camp, where his mahout's wife would take charge 
of him — not a whit afraid of him was she ! Before he went, 
however, F. recommended Mr. W.'s removing the bad 
impression he had made by an atoning gift. With this 
object a whole cocoanut was brought and broken in two, 
then each half was filled with white sugar and handed by 
Mr. W. to the elephant, who graciously accepted the peace- 
offering thus proffered, crunching them up slowly and with 
evident enjoyment. After this there need be no fear of his 
bearing malice. The memories of elephants are proverbial, 
and an affront is forgiven only when the amende honorable 
has been made ; otherwise things are apt to turn out 
awkwardly for the offender. 



38 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER IV 

Fishing expedition — Herd of elephants — A ' rogue ' — Monkeys 

Tame elephants are one thing, wild ones quite another. 
Once when we were out on a fishing expedition an adventure 
befell me with the latter which seemed to me at the time 
enough to upset any one ; but that was not the view taken 
of it by my husband, who thought, and said, that his sport 
had been spoilt for nothing ! 

He was fishing for mahseer, the Indian salmon, which is 
of a silvery grey colour, and the flesh white instead of pink. 
It attains a great size, F.'s patience being rewarded one day 
by a beauty which, after cleaning, turned the scale at ninety- 
six pounds ! This record specimen was mounted and 
presented to the Madras Museum. Clearly it was no light 
thing to interfere with such sport. 

The place had been previously baited with boiled rice 
and various pastes. F. and his people had settled them- 
selves on one bank of the river, meaning to sit there till they 
should get a bite, no matter how long, time being nothing 
to fishermen. In perfect silence they watched for a pull 
on their lines, which were fastened to large wooden reels on 
spikes stuck into the bank, and furnished with cog-wheels, 
which would make a clicking sound to let them know (in 
case they should get drowsy) when anything was nibbling 
at the bait. Not a word was said ; the people knew better 
than to so much as whisper amongst themselves at these 
times, though silence is not their strong point ; the fish were 
shy, and must be coaxed ; a very little would scare them 
away. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 39 

Fishing never appealed to me, not even at the supreme 
moment when a prize was landed and lay flapping on the 
bank ; my only feeling was commiseration for the foolish, 
captured thing ! Being thus inappreciative I had been 
disposed of on the far side of the river (which was too wide 
to speak across) with my books, a chair, etc., at a spot where 
the shore was sandy, the more easily to see intruding croco- 
diles — ' muggers,' as they are commonly called — though 
perhaps in fairness the intrusion was mine. It was not long 
before sounds broke on the quiet from somewhere behind 
me, getting momentarily louder and nearer ; a sort of splash- 
ing and squelching, as of something ponderous wading 
through water. Turning to look, more than half afraid, I 
saw a herd of wild elephants coming my way to investigate 
me, as I supposed at the time, though I afterwards learned 
that that would be the last idea to enter their heads, so 
timid are they. They had calves with them, and a young 
tusker, who squealed and trumpeted as he headed his herd. 
They had all been wading in a creek, but wanted to disport 
themselves in the deeper water. 

Wild elephants, as a rule, keep steadily on their way, 
bound either for the river, to bathe as now, or for some 
prime feeding-ground, always avoiding the vicinity of man ; 
nor are they in the least to be feared. That I knew, but 
having their calves with them I thought might make a 
difference in their tempers, so I tried by signs to make 
the fishermen bring the raft across. To scream would be 
useless ; I had been placed with that intention — that not 
a sound from my side could travel to theirs — but they 
could not pretend not to see my signals. It was quite a 
long time, however, before the raft came alongside, and 
by then the herd was pounding and splashing back at 
top speed, the little ones being hurried along in front of 
their mothers and relatives, all of them intent only on 
taking their youngsters and themselves off in safety. As is 



40 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

invariably the case, they had been alarmed directly they 
discovered the proximity of a human being, and came 
not a step nearer ; I need never have disturbed myself for 
them. Then as soon as we were within speaking distance 
a voice shouted across, ' You 've driven all the fish away ! ' 
And they rafted me back, only that I might no longer have 
the chance of spoiling sport by taking fright at ' nothings.' 

Of course I knew in calm, reasoning moments that if 
there had been any danger I should not have been aban- 
doned to it ; but the mere idea of any one being alarmed 
at the approach of wild elephants was treated as ridiculous. 
'Unless indeed,' said F., 'there had been any likelihood of 
a " rogue" about here, and then we shouldn't have been 
calmly fishing ! ' 

I soon mastered the theories of animal habits and jungle- 
lore generally, but at first very little was needed to frighten 
them out of my head. In later times I took elephants 
and other wild things as unconcernedly as did my hus- 
band, familiarity having, in a sense, bred contempt, so 
often, nay always, was it proved to me that, whether 
ferocious or mild by nature, all are shy of man, and anxious 
to keep out of his way, for their own sakes. This would 
never have come about, however, without confidence in 
my husband and his woodman's craft generally, which 
was trained to a pitch of keenness approaching that of the 
jungle things themselves, whose senses — sight, hearing, 
scent — all exceed those of human beings. I have seen 
him halt suddenly, at the same instant as his men, and 
noticed an alert, concentrated look flash over every face ; 
then all would drop, ear to earth, listening — for what ? 
They had heard, or sensed, the trampling of a herd of 
bison or of elephants, and could best locate the sound thus 
in order to alter or regulate our movements accordingly, 
so that, supposing us to be in quest of game, we might not 
be surprised ourselves. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 41 

Elephants, as already stated, are not game to be shot 
indiscriminately by any and every one ; their destruction 
is prohibited under heavy penalties in order to prevent 
excessive slaughter. A permit, as it is called, has to be 
obtained from the Collector of the district, and would 
always be granted in the case of a ' rogue,' or solitary male 
elephant, so-called because, for reasons known only amongst 
themselves, and very mysterious to mere human beings, 
the herd to which he belonged have driven him out, thereby 
rendering such an ostracised animal morose, and dangerous 
to people whose business takes them anywhere near his 
haunts. None but a trained man would dare to attempt 
the stalking and shooting of a ' rogue,' though, however 
savage he might have become, he would never lose sight 
of his own safety, and would be wary of the unfamiliar. 

Very greatly astonished was I one morning when F. came 
breathless into camp, his people at his heels, and asked for 
' the biggest sheet as quickly as possible.' If I wondered 
what for, I saw that the question would have to keep ; 
however, before they went, he found time to tell me that 
it was to fasten across the path of a ' rogue ' elephant, 
who was at that moment travelling in our direction. The 
single footprints showed what he was, and were fortunately 
discovered in time to take precautions against a surprise 
visit ; for we were exactly in his line of route, and unless 
turned aside he would certainly have demolished us. Such 
an elephant is mostly in a savage, destructive temper, 
and if one be not prepared with a permit to shoot at sight 
— which F. was not — the only thing to do is to get out of 
his way with all speed, leaving such bars to his progress 
as may be available in a hurry ; in this instance, F.'s idea 
of the sheet. It was tied by the four corners to branches, 
and several large empty kerosene-oil drums, with stones 
for clappers, were hung up by way of bells. These things 
being curiosities to him, even if not alarming enough to 



42 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

turn his course, would serve to give him pause, so gaining 
us a little start of him, which was all we could hope for. 
In a wonderfully short time we had packed up and were 
off, nothing hindering. 

Our camp at this place consisted of stoutly constructed 
huts of bamboo and logs, knit together with tough bark 
and fibre : these were intended to last from year to year, 
and were wind and weather, though not ' rogue,' proof. 
The locality had been chosen with an eye to its advantages : 
water at hand in a mountain spring ; cover for game ; 
the approach an easy ascent for supply coolies or pack- 
ponies — this place combined them all, and had been a 
regular camp for a year or two previously, thus it was 
particularly convenient. There were two or three huts, 
as ship-shape and compact as cabins, for ourselves ; a 
guest-chamber for the chance visitor or friend who might 
be with us ; a store-room ; servants' and kitchen quarters ; 
and very strong, panther-proof enclosures for the horses 
and dogs, the latter having a raised platform, thickly 
covered with leaves and grass, for their bed ; there was 
even a flower-garden, through which a rivulet had been 
turned, and in bloom there at the time were balsams, 
which I most especially remember — scarlet, mauve, and 
white. 

A letter was despatched without delay to our Collector 
with a request for the needed permit, F. meanwhile 
settling me temporarily at a safe distance away. The 
following day he returned to the camp — or rather the site of 
it only, as it proved — for not a thing was left standing ! 
The sheet and jangling drums had had their effect, but 
though the latter were all wrenched down the sheet was 
absolutely untouched ; evidently the ' rogue ' had been 
too much frightened at that to go near it, for his foot- 
prints stopped some yards off and then turned aside. 
Otherwise the wreck was complete ; every hut was down, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 43 

and our beautiful little garden a trampled waste. We 
not being there — though with his keen sense of smell he 
must have been aware of our very recent presence — he 
vented his rage on all he found, levelling everything, 
furious at being delayed in his excursion to the low country, 
and the feast of growing crops and wild plantains he had 
promised himself there. Trees were uprooted, branches 
were torn down and thrown about, and the ground looked 
as if it had been ploughed up — all showing how much 
would have now been left of us but for the quick eye that 
noticed the destroyer's tracks. No one was safe with 
him about, for he could go just where he liked ; very fast, 
moreover ; and he was in an even worse frame of mind 
than ' rogues ' usually are. He would ravage the fields 
below unchecked — for who dare hinder him ? — and the 
villages would be deserted at the first suspicion of his 
proximity. But his career was to be over now, and no 
one could regret it. 

After the ' rogue ' was shot, falling to the first bullet 
put through his brain, F. told me that the Mussulman 
peon, who was standing beside him when he fired, im- 
mediately walked up to the elephant and touched an eye- 
ball with his finger — a conclusive test of death, or at least 
of insensibility, but it was a daring thing to do. The peon 
scorned the idea of danger when I spoke to him of it, in 
wonder, saying that he ' knew the elephant had gone to 
Jehannum [hell], so what was there to fear % ' His 'sahib 
could not miss.' 

This ' rogue ' had but one tusk, and that only a stump ; 
it had probably been snapped off in one of a hundred 
tussles, was yellowed with age, scored all over, and of 
enormous weight ; the other was missing altogether, being 
clean broken away. The four feet were converted into 
comfortable footstools, being stuffed, and covered at the 
top with panther-hide. 



44 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

An elephant is an easy animal to shoot if the sportsman 
knows where to aim and can shoot straight ; those are 
the two important things. The brain lies in a cavity 
behind a very thin honey-combed wall of bone ; this 
penetrated by a bullet means instantaneous death. Men 
may be aware of this and other facts theoretically, yet get 
flurried and fail, coming to grief themselves very likely. 
And it is hard to get up any pity for those whose want of 
skill causes them to cripple or butcher animals as capable of 
enjoying life as themselves. 

Ardent sportsman as my husband was, yet a devoted 
lover of all creatures great and small, until I knew his 
argument in defence of sport it seemed to me impossible 
to reconcile the two passions in one mind. His view was 
that a well-aimed bullet was most surely better for an 
animal than a lingering death by starvation and disease in 
old age, and being harried in its extremity by others of 
its kind ; for such is the universal practice in nature. A 
case in point occurred with a tiger he once shot, which was 
crawling painfully to a stream to drink, and looked to be 
in the last stage of emaciation when he caught sight of it. 
In a moment the pitiful life was mercifully and swiftly — 
almost painlessly — ended. A poor, famished beast it was, 
and its stomach was found to be quite empty ; the fine 
face was grey with age, and the eyes were blurred ; teeth 
and claws were worn down. The coat, dull and mangy 
from ill-nourishment and disease, showed wound marks 
that witnessed to some struggle in which the wretched 
creature had been worsted. Such a death in life would 
be inevitable at the finish were wild animals never hunted 
and shot. 

Monkeys, however, are an exception to the unamiable 
practice mentioned above, for they convey their sick and 
hurt into safety, tending them in a very touching manner, 
and uttering cries of distress. Such cries often led F. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 45 

to where a tragedy was being played out ; he would then 
give what help was possible — in most cases a merciful 
shot. 

He never shot monkeys for sport — few sportsmen do ; 
monkeys are too human, and their moans are heart-rending 
when wounded. One morning, riding by the jungle-side, 
we heard such moans, and looking about came upon a 
mother monkey shot or shot at by some one, for she had an 
arrow in her neck, and was mortally hurt, and dying ; her 
baby was hugged close to her in death, and was sucking milk 
with all its tiny force. I need not say she was put out of 
pain without delay ; we took the baby, handing it over to 
a syce's wife, who nursed it by turns with her own infant, 
and it throve well. We had that little thing for years ; 
it became a well-known and somewhat dreaded — or shall 
I say respected — person, for it could be very spiteful, 
though never was so to its friends and familiars. 

Another time it was an even sadder chapter in monkey 
life that was disclosed to us when we heard piercing 
Rachel-cries resounding through the jungle, and found 
a mother monkey crouching over her dead little one, beat- 
ing her poor hairy breast and dabbing leaves and mud 
on the little body where an arrow had found its mark. 
We could do nothing here. There seems little difference 
between the mother-grief of a monkey and that of a 
human being, but the monkey not having as yet reached 
the hope that bears up the other perhaps suffers the more ; 
perhaps she forgets sooner too. — Who knows ? 



46 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER V 

Fishing-tour adventure — Temple in the forest — Coffee planter's pre- 
dicament — Leeches — Ticks — Caterpillars — Green - bugs — Pet shrike 
— White ants — ' Praying ' mantis. 

Wandering through the primeval forests of Malabar one 
comes now and again upon vestiges of a culture and 
worship far older than our own — ruined temples and fallen 
images of exquisite workmanship and of impressive gran- 
deur even in their decay. 

It was during a fishing tour that I once found myself 
close to a temple, not a ruin this time, however, and again 
caused a break in the day's sport thereby ; my fault, as 
before, with the difference that my husband recognised 
danger where I, in my ignorance of the land, never dreamed 
of there being any. With him was a peon, as keen a fisher- 
man as himself, and they had, as usual, settled down 
patiently for a longer or shorter wait till the fish should 
bite. 

It was a very pretty spot ; grassy glades overarched 
with plumy, green bamboos enticing one into their shade. 
Things being very dull according to my idea, I began 
sauntering about some little distance from the bank so 
as not to cast a shadow on the water, and presently came 
upon a small oblong temple, some sixty feet in length and 
in perfect proportion, raised on a platform, with steps all 
round the four sides. Had any one been about I should 
have asked leave (and been refused it, as I afterwards 
learned) before pushing open one of the heavy doors and 
entering the building ; but no one was about, so I looked 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 47 

leisurely round. If the outside was beautiful, finer still 
was it within, and rich with the most exquisite carvings. 
Garlands of flowers hung everywhere, and ashes were laid 
on the floor in symmetrical designs ; smears there were, 
too, of what might have been either red paint or blood. 
In the centre was a space enclosed by openwork, and great 
doors, within which I supposed the shrine to be. Of course, 
I touched nothing, taking particular care not to disturb 
the arrangement of ashes, and came away, having seen 
no one, and, as it happened, having been seen by none, 
though I gave not a thought to either point. Little did I 
guess that it was at the risk of my life that I had ventured 
so much as to stand near the steps ! 

Strolling back to the river (neither F. nor the peon 
turning their heads at my approach), I sat down, mention- 
ing where I had been. Came the low, muttered reply, 
' For God's sake, be quiet.' That seemed to me very 
strong language, with only the chance of a nibble in ques- 
tion ; nor was such my husband's habit, but I said no more. 
Then, on his quietly remarking on the hopelessness of the 
place for any luck, and that they would move, the things 
were gathered up, and in the shifting he told me of the 
enormity I had committed in polluting the sacred temple 
with my presence — speaking of it aloud, moreover, in the 
hearing of the peon, a high-caste Hindu, who might know 
more of English than he pretended to do ! He said the 
best hope lay in the chance of his not having seen or under- 
stood anything ; that he himself had not noticed my going 
away, or in which direction I went, so very possibly 
neither had the peon, both being too intent on their fishing 
and I being in the habit of wandering about. If he should 
have done so, however, F. thought he would be able to 
arrange it, as there was only the one man. Had there been 
two, each witness of the other, it would have been a different 
matter ; far more difficult, if not impossible, without very 



48 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

considerable payments for the purification ceremonies in 
the temple ; but, worst of all, had any of the priests or 
boys employed in the service observed me, money would 
hardly square it. A few years before this a coffee planter 
living not far off had come down here for the fishing with 
his family, and nearly lost one of his children. Some of the 
party strayed off into this very temple at a time when it 
was full of people. The priests and worshippers were alike 
furious at the intrusion and pollution, chasing them out 
and throwing stones and pieces of wood ; one child was 
within an ace of being stoned to death ; they wanted to 
take his life ! It was at great expense, and then only with 
the utmost difficulty, that the whole party were bought 
off, the father giving into all present demands and binding 
himself to further compensation, knowing well that the 
temple authorities would be upheld in their rights. 

The proverb ' Fools rush in where angels fear to tread ' 
might have been made for those intruders or for me. As 
to our affair, the peon either hadn't seen, or didn't want 
to see, anything, so no one was any the wiser, and we heard 
no more about it. 

Camping in, or even travelling through, the forests is to 
be avoided in the rainy season, when they are infested 
with leeches. I did it once, but only that once. As you 
pass along every leaf and twig is alive and bristling with 
them in their legions, raising themselves on end and craning 
out their necks till they seem all neck, being then ravenous 
and thin. In this condition they are an inch long, no 
thicker than twine, and dark brown in colour. Woe to 
you if you happen to be their first victim ! If there be 
one unguarded breach in your apparel from head to foot 
they will effect an entrance. Nothing is any protection 
from them but a veil, kept away from the face by a wide- 
brimmed ' solar topee ' or sun hat, and fastened down closely 
round your throat with elastic. Your under garments 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 49 

must be arranged with the same idea ; if the smallest 
crevice exist the leeches will find it out, scent-guided. F. 
used to wind strong unbleached calico soaked in saltpetre 
brine (or in tobacco juice, obtained by steeping rank tobacco 
in boiling water till a very pungent solution resulted) round 
his legs, encasing them in leathern gaiters to keep the 
wrappings in place, stitched together though these would 
be. Once, being surprised without these safeguards, he 
came back at the end of the day quite exhausted from 
loss of blood, such toll had the leeches levied. Six hun- 
dred of them were taken off him, mostly from his legs and 
feet ; but indeed they were everywhere, fixed on tightly — 
not slim now, but gorged and rotund — only to be shifted 
by a touch of nicotine, or, what seems rather barbarous, by 
the warm end of a cheroot. 

The danger from leech-bite is due to the frightful irri- 
tation that ensues, and the victim's tendency to scratch 
hastily, which only increases it, when nasty sores are apt 
to result, depending on the state of his health at the time. 
To me, however, by far the worst thing about them was 
their writhing, sinuous motion. Some people have a 
natural abhorrence of any wormy creature, the very idea 
of contact sends a shudder through them : it is a purely 
physical repugnance, and a sensation quite distinct from 
fear. It is so with me — though I should not hesitate to 
pick up anything of the sort to put it out of harm's way — 
therefore in my case the bites were the least part of the 
trouble. 

Our huts — we could not carry tents about in the rains — 
were built out in the open, away from trees and cover, 
yet they were surrounded and entered by the leeches in 
spite of the distance they had to come. Thick layers of 
ashes were scrupulously laid round, and some inches up, 
the legs of tables, chairs, cots, etc., or no one would have 
had any peace. 

D 



50 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Wild animals suffer cruelly from leeches, and avoid the 
forests all they can during the months when they abound, 
keeping to the grasslands in the open, preferring to brave 
the tempest of cold rain, all unprotected from its driving 
blasts, rather than be bled to death by these creatures. 
Natives, too, will go miles out of their way in order to keep 
clear of the leech-infested areas, which are confined to the 
wooded tracts. 

Though it was an easy matter to take these blood-suckers 
off the bodies of our horses, dogs, and other animals, it was 
not so when they got them into their noses whilst drinking 
— the streams being full of leeches. The poor beasts got 
no rest for trying to rid themselves of their tormentors. 
Syringing with salt and water would not always dislodge 
them, so tenaciously do they stick on ; the best plan was 
to keep the animal from water entirely, by most stringent 
and hard-hearted watching, until it should be very thirsty ; 
then a pan of water held under the nose would bring down 
the leeches, thirsty too now, and instinctively seeking their 
natural element. What leeches do in other seasons I 
do not know, though there must be moisture enough in 
mountain streams to keep them alive ; at any rate no one 
ever knew the leech crop to fail. 

On this special occasion we lingered in the forest no 
longer than was absolutely necessary. F. hurried up with 
his work and returned later on to finish. 

Ticks are another and equally distressing source of 
trouble to the animals and the scantily clothed people. 
These pests adhere so firmly to the skin that getting them 
off brings a bit of skin away also. I remember an occasion 
when one of the dogs, a shaggy one, was in such a state that 
he had to be clipped, not to say shaved, and rubbed with 
kerosene before he could be relieved — the oil loosening 
their hold — and this at the end of a single day's outing ! 
These ticks, small to begin with, get as large and round 



■H 








7 


*.;-•" ■';' 




1 








s 




















• 




H 




ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 51 

as currants with the blood of their victims ; the fuller they 
are the more tightly they stick on. Our people, beaters, 
coolies — all would be dotted over with them, hanging on in 
bunches ; they had enough to do getting them off them- 
selves and each other, let alone the animals. 

Unlike the leeches, dry weather suits ticks as well as 
wet, so in all seasons there was generally something of 
the kind to contend with. 

However fond people may be of animals, insects, life in 
every shape — as we certainly were — it does not seem 
possible for them to look upon ticks and leeches as any- 
thing but unmitigated pests ; their ways oblige one so 
to regard them. Existing in myriads, they must consti- 
tute a vast aggregate of happiness in the mere joy of 
living and breathing, which clothes itself in so many 
forms ; but what useful purpose these unpleasant entities 
fulfil in the scheme of Nature is not apparent on the 
surface. 

There is a certain caterpillar that for its disagreeableness 
might be classed under the same head as the ticks and 
leeches ; a truly venomous little beast it was — as I can 
testify from personal experience — not harmless like the 
' woollybear ' of our June gardens, which it much resembles 
in appearance. The fine hairs of this caterpillar are poison- 
ous, judging by their power of causing blistering sores if 
they get into, and work under, the skin. Once there these 
hairs are too fine to be pulled out, and if they are broken 
off, with the least mite left behind, it only makes matters 
worse, so that however much irritation their presence 
produces, you dare not rub, or you would rub the broken 
bits farther in. 

It happened that F. and I were stopping for the day at 
an abandoned coffee estate at Billikul, near Ootacamund 
(commonly called Ooty), where stood a ruinous crib that 
served us for a pied-a-terre. It was morning, and we were 



52 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

sitting under a shady tree watching for a panther that we 
knew to be about ; we had not been there long, however, 
before a very awful sensation of crawling, burning, tingling, 
everything that is dreadful, made us forget all about the 
panther, and on looking round for the cause of our troubles 
we found that the tree and the grass beneath it were alive 
with armies of these hairy caterpillars. There was nothing 
for it but to go back to the bungalow and take off every 
thread of clothing, putting it aside to be burnt for fear of 
any one picking it up unawares, and all that being safely 
disposed of, try to rid ourselves of the hairs — no easy task. 
Wherever the caterpillars alight, on your neck or ears, or 
effect an entry under your clothes, they will crawl unfelt 
at first, then wind their way into your very innermost 
apparel, shedding hairs as they go. There is only one 
remedy, just less unpleasant than the presence of the hairs, 
and that is to draw them out by dropping hot wax wherever 
they are upon you, letting it cool, and then cracking it off, 
when the hairs will come away with it ; but it must be very 
carefully done, and is not an easy job. As can be imagined, 
our plight was not a pleasant one ; we felt as if stung all 
over as well as slightly burnt, too, with the wax. Moreover, 
being at that place only for the day, we had no complete 
change of clothing, and had to send for more by express 
messenger, on horseback, to Ooty, twelve or fourteen miles 
away. 

Another creature causing some inconvenience, though 
of a trifling nature compared with that produced by the 
caterpillar just described, was a persistent little beetle of the 
lady-bird sort — the green-bug as it is called, though it is 
without any disagreeable attributes such as its name might 
imply. So numerous was it in some places that lids of fine 
basketwork or silver for tumblers and wine-glasses were 
necessary adjuncts to the table when we were dining out 
of doors or in camp. The lamplight attracted them in such 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 53 

numbers that we often had narrow-necked bottles placed 
about the table into which to drop them ; the bottles when 
full — which they became speedily — were carried to a dis- 
tance, shaken empty, and brought back to be refilled 
at least twice during dinner, especially towards the rainy 
season. At Coimbatore sometimes we could hardly eat our 
dinner at all, for they flew in our faces and settled on our 
plates, which could not well be kept covered. They are 
pretty, pale green things, about one-third of an inch in 
length and oblong in shape ; quite harmless, too, though 
troublesome from their numbers and persistency. It 
would seem that they are not good for birds to eat. A 
shrike we had as a pet once tackled a green-bug, and the 
next instant he was lying on his back kicking as if in a fit ; 
but he soon recovered, happily for us as well as himself, 
we being bound up in that shrike because of his perfect 
tameness. It didn't matter to him whether he were picked 
up by one foot or one wing, for he would soon right himself, 
exactly as a kitten does ; he had no fear whatever at being 
thus handled, and was full of play ; taking great liberties 
himself, too, with one's ears or hands, sometimes nipping 
a minute bit of the skin and twitching it clean out ! Yet 
a coward to boot, for at the first sign of what he considered 
danger he would be hiding in one's lap or close against 
one somehow. So perfectly at home with us was he, and 
also with the servants, that he travelled into camp with 
us, being as free there as at headquarters, as he could 
always be whistled back if he strayed farther than usual. 
Constantly foraging for insects in the earth or the air, he 
also liked to sample our plates, pecking at anything there 
that he fancied ; if disapproving of what he tasted he 
would drop it, and shake his head. He acquired odd 
tastes, too, even to a liking for curry ; the rice he came 
for regularly. Among insects white ants were quite his 
favourites ; they are winged at a certain stage of their 



54 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

existence, and he would catch them in the air as both he 
and they were flying. 

These white ants — termites is their scientific name — 
will eat up anything ; for example, an umbrella left over- 
night on a window-sill had only a few rags hanging to its 
ribs by morning. They are clever bridge-builders, too, 
and have to be reckoned with in Indian household arrange- 
ments. A leather trunk of mine, raised from the stone 
floor on the bottoms of four glass bottles, and quite a foot 
away from the wall — an outside one certainly, so we ought 
to have watched better — was forgotten, trusting perhaps 
to the precautions taken. At any rate no one went to that 
box for some little time — and quite a little time may be 
too long to leave things ; when some one did at length 
open it again it was found to be tunnelled through and 
through by white ants. As its contents — my clothes — 
were picked up they hung in rags and shreds, just like the 
umbrella. The box was full, but nothing had escaped the 
ravages of these marauders, nor was anything in it of the 
least use again. Wool there was none, all the things being 
of silk or muslin. Looking round behind the box we 
found two bridges as thick as a finger, and quite twelve 
inches long, one at either end, about two inches above the 
floor, of red white-ant mud. These bridges are breakable 
but not crumbly, being pretty stiffly compacted of some 
sort of red clay which the little builders know where to find 
— never using any other — and are cemented with their own 
saliva. 

Their nests are conical mounds, wonders of engineering 
within, being chambered and having galleries. Very ordin- 
ary-sized nests are six and seven feet high ; the smaller 
ones are used as ovens by native travellers. Large crops 
of minute mushrooms are often found growing all over 
these mounds, and can be sliced off like mustard and cress, 
being just about as high ; their tiny white tops are not 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 55 

half an inch across, so that it takes quite a quantity to 
make a dishful ; they are very tasty when stewed, and 
perfectly wholesome. 

The white ants themselves, at their winged stage, are 
caught and fried as a great delicacy. Packets of these 
have often been brought to us as gifts, and, being eminently 
' perishable,' * might be accepted. I had curiosity enough 
to taste them, and found that they had been daintily 
cooked in some aromatic oil flavoured with coriander. 

If some few little animals and insects oblige me to call 
them ' pests,' others can only be regarded as ' jokes ' ; of 
such are all the mantis, or amantis tribe, for they take 
the strangest forms, or rather, I should say, they are the 
exact likenesses of simple inanimate things. An end of 
straw seven or eight inches long, in no way differing in 
appearance from any other straw, will stalk off on very 
long, spindly legs, when you will see that it has good powers 
of locomotion, and a head furnished with serviceable eyes 
with which to see where it is going, but only a piece of 
straw for a body. 

So, too, you may notice a pea-shell lying on the ground, 
rather mysteriously if there are not any peas about just 
then ; but that it is one you make no doubt, and so abso- 
lutely indistinguishable is it from any other pea-shell that 
you can hardly believe your own eyes when you see it get 
up on thin, stiff legs and walk away. Even when you 
take these things in your hand to examine them closely, 
the illusion, far from being dispelled, is only the more 
mystifying. 

The ' praying ' mantis is a strange, twig-like creature, 
with a habit of sitting up and so folding its limbs that no 
better name for it could have been found. 

All the mantis kind (leaf-insects) are quite harmless, nor 

1 Government makes this distinction as to gifts that may be accepted by 
its servants. 



56 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

are they particularly destructive to vegetation, though 
belonging to the grasshopper family — the order Orthoptera. 
My husband sent home a large collection of these leaf- 
insects to the Zoological Gardens, and being just as curious 
dried as when alive, they did not lose so much as do speci- 
mens depending on colour in interest. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 57 



CHAPTER VI 

Snakes, harmless and otherwise — Snakestone — Snake at dinner-party — 
Snake-charmer — Poison fangs — A cobra — Government and cobra- 
culture — Sacred cobras of Calicut — Nondescript temple — Tanks and 
1 holy ' water. 

While making one's way through the forest undergrowth 
in dry, warm weather it is necessary to be ever on one's 
guard against snakes ; cold and wet they do not like, 
keeping hidden and sheltered when the leech season is at 
its height, though in the plains they do seek cool, damp 
nooks during the hot months. 

One curious point about snakes is their peculiar and 
distinctive odour, which is so like that of wet earth that 
at the beginning of the rains, if this smell be perceived in 
the air, one may well be in doubt as to its cause ; but in 
the hot weather, when no moisture is possible, and this 
scent be noticed, one may be sure there is a snake near by. 
That is the only indication of their presence unshared by 
other voiceless creatures, such as lizards, innocently rustling 
in and out under one's feet. 

Figures are said not to he, but statistics undoubtedly 
do, and very especially those relating to the various causes 
of death throughout some given localities as recorded 
weekly in the Indian papers — English and native. The 
item ' death from snake-bite ' is never missing, and is a 
handy way of pigeon-holing deaths that are unaccounted 
for ; one, too, which cannot be gainsaid, the true cause in 
many cases being much likelier private squabbles ending in 
undiscovered murder — that is, when natives are concerned ; 
in the case of Europeans no such hiding-up would be possible. 



58 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

In all the years I spent in India never to my remembrance 
did I hear of an authenticated case of death from snake- 
bite amongst Europeans. Escapes — ' near shaves ' as one 
likes to think them — most people have ; but the truth is 
that every creature will try to make good its own escape as its 
first aim and instinct, so that after all the danger has never 
been so great as one imagined. Nevertheless, the snakes 
of India cannot be disposed of so shortly as are those of 
Ireland by the writer of a book on that country in his 
famous chapter headed, ' On the Snakes of Ireland,' the begin- 
ning and end of which is, ' There are no snakes in Ireland ' ! 

Snakes there certainly are in India, the most deadly of 
all being one of the smallest, the Tic polonga ; it is but 
some eighteen inches long ; a bite from it means death in 
twenty minutes. If a person be bitten by what he takes 
to be one of these snakes and live, he may know for certain 
that it was no Tic polonga. With other snakes, to cut the 
bite out is the best thing to do, though a man by himself 
may not be able to manage this promptly enough to be 
of any use before the venom shall have travelled along 
his veins, and he be doomed. Cautery with a hot iron is, 
of course, equally good, only the knife is generally handier. 
Ammonia injected into the wound is useful, and sub- 
cutaneous injections of strychnine or of a solution of 
chloride of gold. Both these have proved efficacious as 
antidotes, though in the case of cobra-bite I would trust to 
nothing but the direct cautery or a sharp blade. I have 
been told that (when no prompt action is taken) a lethargy 
steals over the system, ending in the death swoon. As to 
the sensations of a person bitten by a Tic polonga, none ever 
survived long enough to tell, and speculation is useless. 

There are enormous snakes, of several varieties, which 
are harmless, though looking formidable enough from their 
size, notably rock-snakes. Only by their breathing can 
they be distinguished, when still, from the stone or grass 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 59 

whereon they may be lying, so wondrously coloured are 
they — grey blotched here and there with green and brown, 
exactly like moss or lichen ; hence their safety. I remem- 
ber a friend of ours having the skin of one dried to make 
chair covers for his English drawing-room ! This was over 
nineteen feet long, and not reckoned out of the way. 
Beautiful, I own, but not to my fancy for daily use. 

Pythons need to be large, considering the size of their 
prey. F. shot one of these which was very nearly dead 
when he came upon it. The horns of a deer were sticking 
out of its mouth, the rest of the body having been swal- 
lowed and partially digested without the bones being at 
all crushed ; but the horns gave the snake trouble, and it 
was choking, so that to shoot it was merciful. Another 
time he found a cat — a black cat — in the stomach of a 
python ; neither in this case were any bones broken, the 
prey being always swallowed whole. Whether a python 
would attack a human being I do not know ; I never 
heard of such a thing happening. 

Other non- venomous sorts, such as the common rat- 
snakes, grow pretty long ; they never interfere with people, 
and their bite would only be in self-defence if roughly 
handled. 

Once we were living temporarily in the more habitable 
part of a ruinous old bungalow whilst a new one was 
building for us, and it happened that some friends passing 
through the place, and staying with us, were obliged to 
occupy the other part. During the night they were kept 
awake by strange sounds proceeding from under the warped, 
creaking floor — an incessant scuffling and squeaking — and 
on investigation being made the next morning no less 
than four and twenty rat-snakes, dead and alive, were 
* counted ! All the latter were spared, thanks to their 
usefulness in keeping down the army of rats that infested 
the bungalow. Some glided away, some stayed coiled up 



60 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

where they were ; the rats had got the better of a few, 
attacking them and biting them through the neck and 
vertebrae. 

Some of the small harmless snakes are most lovely to 
behold. Three kinds I remember especially : one was 
rainbow-hued, or mother-of-pearl, with shaded bars, an 
exquisitely iridescent little being ; another was of a gleam- 
ing jet-black above, below, crimson merging into coral 
and pure white. This sort I saw one day when, just as I 
was going to sit down on a couch, F. cried out hastily, 
1 Mind ! don't sit on my coat,' his coat happening to lie 
there. ' Why, is there a snake in the pocket ? ' I asked. 
* Yes, and you might kill it.' That was not exactly the 
sense in which I had spoken, so kept clear of the coat, not, 
however, being much surprised. 

The third was a little green beauty, living mostly in 
trees, a transparent, apple-tinted, timid creature, and 
quite harmless. We had at one time a small Ceara-rubber 
plantation of our own, and often have I seen this little 
green snake, no more than twelve inches long, gliding in 
and out among the leaves, or, as it were, sailing towards 
one — so graceful is the poise of the slender, swan-like head 
and throat — then darting away in alarm, though no one 
ever harmed it. 

Many a time, when pulling off dead bits among the ferns 
in the verandahs, have I seen and felt a little snake wriggle 
from between my fingers — no fern spray, but a living, 
frightened thing, harmless for the most part ; or pushed 
aside one on the matting in the house, taking it to be a 
piece of rope, till it twisted round my foot for an instant 
and then was gone. 

Long after I left India — so strong becomes the habit of 
years — I never moved out of doors at dusk without tapping 
the ground with foot or umbrella in place of the little cane 
one uses there when walking in the compound, just to warn 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 61 

off sleeping snakes, who, glad to be so warned for their 
own sakes, glide away speedily, and would bite only in 
self-defence if unable to escape. I well remember one 
day standing in an agony of terror and indecision as to 
what to do, having inadvertently trodden on one asleep 
on the gravelled path. The tiny head was reared three 
or four inches above my instep, where it could have bitten 
me, doubtless, but it was only hissing viciously at me for 
pressing it on to the rough ground, as I was doing for lack 
of common-sense. My husband coming in sight I beckoned 
to him, pointing downwards, not daring to speak aloud, 
hardly to breathe. He saw, and asked me quite calmly 
why didn't I let it go. Let it go ! I wanted nothing 
better ; and it seemed that was all the little snake wanted 
either, for with the slightest lift of my imprisoning foot 
it was gone like a streak of light, as pleased as I was to see 
it go. 

People who would consider themselves well educated are 
still to be found speaking and writing of a snake ' darting 
out its venomed sting,' such a ' sting ' being nothing more 
than its tongue ! The virus of a snake lies in the glands, 
or poison-bags, beneath two fangs in the upper jaw ; with 
the pressure exerted in biting it is propelled along the 
minute tube running up in each tooth. Minute as this 
tube is — like a mere thread — enough poison is injected 
at one bite to cause death to ensue within a few hours, or 
in some cases sooner, as I have already mentioned. If 
the bitten person feel no ill effects, as does sometimes 
happen, even in the case of cobra-bite, it is only because 
the venom has spent itself, probably on the clothing, 
before reaching the flesh. That is just what befell a relative 
of ours. He was riding, and perhaps his horse trod on the 
cobra, for it did what was quite extraordinary, it leaped 
up and struck his boot, biting through the tough leather. 
There was a tiny wound on his foot, which was cauterised 



62 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

as a precaution ; but no harm came of the bite : the boot 
had saved him. 

The study of snake poison has a fascination of its own 
for some persons. I have seen this poison, which is almost 
colourless and limpid, like vaccine lymph. It was shown 
to us in his laboratory by one of the greatest authorities 
on the subject then living 1 ; one, too, who had an un- 
rivalled name for courage in the field of experimentation 
with poisons of all kinds — animal, vegetable, or mineral. 
He told us that even cobra-venom may be swallowed 
without any ill effects whatever ; for it is deadly only when 
mingled with the blood, as it would be should there be the 
very least abrasion of the mouth, just as in the case of an 
actual bite by the living creature. And this may be trusted 
as correct, for he was one of those persons who, fearless 
for themselves, are careful never to hazard statements relat- 
ing to such meddlings with poisons before having tried 
experiments on themselves ; nor was he a vivisectionist, 
holding experiments performed upon an animal to be incon- 
clusive as to their effect in the case of a human being. 

He gave us a small snakestone, said to have the property, 
when laid upon a bite, of absorbing the virus. This stone 
has a peculiarly, almost greasily, smooth surface, and is 
curiously snaky in colour, being black, veined with olive 
and grey : the larger the stone the more valuable it is. 
Our friend said that he had not fully made trial of its 
efficacy, but was inclined to place its reputation with that 
of the divination of the presence of water and metals by 
means of a rod or hazel wand ; to his mind, the power in 
both cases lying in the hand using it. 

But every one does not possess a snakestone, so the 
next best thing is to cut the bitten flesh with a bold hand, 
and then suck at the wound in order to draw out any 
remaining poison. I saw this done once when one of the 

1 Dr. Shortt, whose laboratory at that time was in the Shevaroy Hills. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 63 

peons had been bitten by some sort of snake. He did not 
see the creature, only feeling the bite, and came running 
up, his hand held out and downwards, gasping hoarsely, 
' Samp ! Samp ! ' (' Snake ! Snake ! '). He knew what 
should be done, the sooner the better. Without wincing, 
except for a flicker of the eyelids, he bore the sharp, scoop- 
ing turn of F.'s pocket-knife, and in all appearance gladly ; 
then F., putting his own mouth to the wound, drew at it 
long and hard. This was done several times, and afterwards 
the hand was bathed and bandaged in carbolised lint, my 
husband using some disinfectant for his own mouth. Had 
there been the least scratch on it he said the peon would 
have been obliged to suck the wound for himself, and if he 
did not dare do it either, for the same reason, then some 
one else must have done him the service, and it would have 
devolved upon me as the person nearest at the time. I 

remember wondering to myself whether But at any 

rate, after witnessing the calm pluck exhibited by both 
men equally in those few moments, I felt that I should be 
ready, if need were, another time. 

Three tiny marks set in a triangle thus, .\ , are a snake's 
sign-manual, as it were ; they are bluish, or appear so in 
the brown skin of a native, where only have I seen them. 

A friend of ours once, whilst out shooting alone, found 
himself bitten on the thumb. He saw the snake, and knew 
it to be a bad one, but there was no time to kill it, for he 
had to see to himself. Putting his thumb into position on 
a tree stump he blew it clean off with his Express, and 
so saved his life. 

Another incident connected with a snake occurred at 
a dinner-party. One of the guests noticed something 
under the chair of his neighbour, Major C. First saying to 
him very quietly, ' Don't stir,' he bade a servant bring 
a saucer of milk, which the man did, guessing at once for 
what it was wanted. Major C. kept still unquestioningly ; 



64 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

he' knew, as did all present, why the milk had been sent 
for and placed under his chair. Whilst the ' something ' — 
which proved to be a cobra — was engaged lapping the milk 
it was quickly despatched with a hammer. The next 
morning Major C.'s hair showed streaks of grey, such had 
been the strain and tension of racked nerves during that 
brief interval, though he was no coward, and wears the 
V.C. to-day. 

One morning a hue and cry was raised in our compound 
on the announcement that a cobra had been seen in the 
stables, and would certainly do for somebody, and for the 
horses too, if not routed out. ' Would the Dursani wish 
a snake-charmer to be sent for ? ' ' Yes, indeed the Dur- 
sani would, and that instantly, but she must be there to 
see the charming.' So the man was fetched, no Indian 
village being without its snake-charmer. I went down 
to the stables and waited for the great man. No one else 
could entice the cobra, which had been so fortunately dis- 
covered by a grass-cutter, out of its hiding-place. As soon 
as he came he sat down on his heels and began his weird 
chant, a musical though monotonous one, drumming the 
while, without a moment's cessation, on a hollowed gourd 
with a bladder stretched across each end. 

A snake's love for music is no fable ; this one emerged 
from its retreat in a very short time, gliding downwards 
from the rafters. About four feet six inches long it was, 
full grown, and undeniably very handsome. On reaching 
the ground nearer and nearer it came in search of the 
sounds it loved, heeding nothing else till quite close to the 
charmer, who was motionless, all but his mouth and drum- 
ming fingers. There it rested, coiled round on its tail, 
with the evilly beautiful head reared quite a foot from the 
ground ; then it began a swaying, dancing movement, 
head and neck keeping time (as it truly seemed) with the 
music. It was ecstatically happy, for the eyes, though 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 65 

mere slits of green light, were dreamy, and the hood lay level. 
I could not take my eyes from the sight, and to this day 
I never hear those verses in the 58th Psalm, which speak 
of the deaf adder ' which refuseth to hear the voice of the 
charmer, charm he never so wisely,' but that scene rises up 
before me. The East knows no change, and as snake- 
charmers are to-day, with their fascinating and weird 
chants, so must they have been those long-dead centuries 
ago. 

Without for an instant stopping his drumming, the man 
asked for milk in the same monotone as he used in his 
chant. It was brought, and put down in front of the 
cobra ; that was not done by any of our servants, however, 
but by the young boy attendant of the charmer in waiting 
to carry away the show ' properties,' who squatted fear- 
lessly alongside as the snake lowered its head to the saucer 
and drank greedily. All the time the droning chant, never 
varying by a semitone, and the hollow, resonant drumming 
too, went on till the milk was nearly but not quite lapped 
up, still engaging the attention of the cobra ; then — I 
hardly saw, so swift was he — the man had the creature 
by the tail end in one hand, not by the head as you 
would imagine — and lightning-quick swept his other hand 
along its body, deftly catching it by the throat. For one 
instant it dangled, impotent now, in the grip of the long 
lean fingers ; the next the man had hooked out the two 
poison fangs with a clumsy knife which had lain close to 
hand. 

I was horrified at such rough surgery, the bleeding 
mouth, and the helplessness of the creature hanging limply 
enough now — after we had fed it, too, for this very pur- 
pose, doubtless ; but no sentient thing should be so mal- 
treated and cast aside to suffer, cobra or what not ; being 
now disarmed, the victim claimed our pity. 

' Sentiment ! ' some one sneers ; others, again, will 

E 



66 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

understand it all depends on natural character and cannot 
be altered or brought about. In order to possess that sense 
of fair play and the right of other creatures to live and 
enjoy, one must be born with it. 

So the man — maybe to his surprise — was made to bathe 
the cobra's wounded mouth, and it was then supplied 
with eggs and milk galore : four eggs, I remember, it sucked 
out in the neatest manner possible. After its meal the 
invalid seemed quite comfortable, showing no resentment, 
only drowsiness ; for it coiled itself round contentedly 
in the hay-lined basket brought for that purpose, and was 
then taken away, perhaps to earn its living for the future 
as part of a juggler's stock-in-trade, or, what was more 
likely, to be retained by the snake-charmer himself. In 
the latter case it might probably prove a valuable asset, 
and bring its owner in many a rupee when it should be 
slipped adroitly into some house or stable to figure as a 
venomous snake, though it was tamed now and quite 
harmless. There would be no fear of losing it, for it could 
always be charmed back again. This little ruse had, indeed, 
been hinted at as possible when I was first told of the 
cobra's presence ; but it seemed better to let oneself be 
tricked with a domesticated specimen than to run any 
risks by trying to be particularly clever. 

A hunt for the cobra's mate was kept up for the next 
few days, as these snakes are said to be always found 
in pairs and to revenge themselves for any injuries to each 
other. But on this occasion no other was discovered. 

So much did the two poison fangs interest me that I 
asked to have them (imagining them to be as innocuous 
now as their late owner), and kept them very carefully on 
a card, where they stuck and dried. Afterwards, when 
my husband was shown my treasures, he took them away 
and burnt them instantly, telling me that I had been 
handling death itself. For those tiny things, not so much 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 67 

as a quarter of an inch in length, and shaped like a dog's 
tooth, still contained the fatal venom, as might be seen in 
the darkly-tinged and thread-like tubes passing up their 
centre, which tubes, if empty, would have been trans- 
parent ; there was, in fact, enough venom in them, if 
moistened, to kill any one touching them with the least 
abrasion on their fingers. I hadn't particularly heeded mine, 
and pretty often for a fortnight had been picking up the 
mysterious little scraps of things to gaze at them under a 
strong magnifier — attached to their card certainly, but that 
was only for fear of losing them — so great was the fascina- 
tion they had for me, and very thankful I was to reflect 
that at any rate no one else had had access to them. 

If you should by ill-chance find yourself in the near 
neighbourhood of a cobra, tho best thing next to getting 
away is to keep perfectly quiet. If you remember this, 
and have yourself well in hand, you are probably safe, as 
long, that is, as the dreaded hood — its danger signal, only 
raised in anger or excitement — lies level. I once found 
myself in such a position. What it would be to see the 
fateful hood raised at oneself I do not know ; to find oneself 
near a cobra at all is bad enough almost to stop one's 
heart beating for horror, while passively, as it were, waiting 
on the creature's whim. Those who have experienced 
such moments will tell you that to be face to face with a 
cobra carries with it an indescribable sensation of chill. 
The metallic-looking body, the flat head, and narrow, 
glinting eyes strike one through and through with a mortal 
cold. Very gems for beauty are those emerald-gleaming 
eyes, but of a sort likely to be better appreciated at your 
leisure with a sheet of glass betwixt you and them. 

One morning when luxuriating on the verandah — 
Indian fashion in a reposeful chair, with my feet tucked 
up — I noticed a black Persian cat (never very far off, and 
now stretched out on one of the long arms of my chair) 



68 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

gazing downwards very fixedly ; he was gritting his teeth 
and making those little sounds cats do at a bird which they 
have marked as their own, thinking it to be within their 
spring. Following his line of sight I saw a cobra coiled 
round the front leg of the chair. It was also regarding 
me ; its head — the never-to-be-mistaken spectacled head 
— was a little uplifted, but not the hood. That gave me 
courage and time. I dared not stir or call out for help 
for fear of alarming or annoying my unwelcome visitor. 
Nothing must excite it — that had always been impressed 
on me with regard to a cobra. 

Now cats are not a scrap afraid of snakes, and my terror 
was lest ' Chummy ' should make no more ado but pounce 
down upon this one ! 

How to bring my feet to the ground so as to get away 
without upsetting its temper I knew not ; but something 
had to be done, and that quickly. Cobras are known to 
be short-tempered ; as long as its hood lay flat all was 
well, it was still in a good humour, but a change of position 
on the cat's part or mine might be fatal. 

The mind moves quickly at times ; in those few seconds 
it had occurred to me that possibly what I was dreading, 
namely, the rustling of my skirts near the cobra if I stirred, 
might in reality be the very thing that had fanned it into 
placid drowsiness with their softness ; hence by a little 
management of those skirts, quiet, slow movements might 
serve me better than anything else. 

But ' Chummy ' could not be trusted to keep still and 
watchful, as I could trust myself to do ; he must be made 
sure of, so with him clutched firmly under my arm, and 
a very fervent prayer for outward calm, wherein only lay 
safety, I did put my feet to the ground within an inch or 
two of the cobra, nothing but a scrap of muslin between 
us. I then stood up and stepped past it without rousing 
it at all ; indeed it had drawn its raised head back among 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 69 

the coiled folds, and seemed to be settling down to sleep 
again. All was over and done quickly enough, as we reckon 
time ; but truly those few seconds were the longest in my 
life, and stand out distinct from every other memory. 

I do not think now that there was any real danger 
whatever from that cobra in its contented, slumberous 
mood ; if it had fancied that its safety was in any way 
threatened it would have become enraged, but its be- 
haviour expressed neither fear nor irritation. The question 
was how long would that amiable frame of mind last. 
The creature's suspicions once aroused, nothing could have 
saved the situation. 

But now another difficulty arose. How could the cobra 
be persuaded to leave the premises amicably ? None of 
our servants would harm, let alone kill, it on any account. 
We were then living at Calicut, where the people venerate 
cobras, believing them to be inhabited by the souls of their 
ancestors ; therefore, as religion was concerned, no one 
could be either ordered or bribed to despatch one. Finally, 
however, this one was driven away by the very simple 
device of tilting up the chair with a long bamboo cane. 
Our Hindu servants were on tour with the Doray, or it 
would never have been allowed to escape scot-free. 

Whilst we were still living in that same place a friend 
came to spend the day with me — a very favourite way of 
enjoying each other's society with Englishwomen in India. 
She brought with her her two children and an ayah for 
each of them. 

My friend and I were ' lazing ' by ourselves when 
frightened cries reached us. On our going — or more 
probably sending, it being India and the hot weather — 
to see what was the matter, we found that one of the babies 
had been playing by a hole in a wall, pulling out the crumb- 
ling chunam (mortar), and trying, baby fashion, to make 
the hole larger. The hole was tenanted, and the child 



70 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

had roused the sleeping Death within. The ayahs, who 
knew a cobra when they saw it, said that it had put out 
its head with the hood erect, as was only to be expected when 
it was disturbed by the prying, baby fingers. Our respective 
husbands, having been told, were soon on the spot. Mine, 
never at a loss, had milk, a forked stick, and a good knife 
somewhere at hand, I knew ; the saucer of milk was put 
down by the hole, and we waited — not long, however — for 
milk and eggs will entice any snake, and it did this one, 
which showed enough of itself for its head to be pinned 
down and chopped clean off. 

Snakes were far too numerous at Calicut for our peace 
of mind, but especially cobras, protected as they were by 
native superstition and custom, and these, I need hardly 
say, were the kind that mattered to us most. 

At one time a reward was offered by the Indian Govern- 
ment for every cobra's head or venomous snake brought 
in to the Kutcheri (Government Office) at every station or 
cantonment throughout all districts generally, which most 
short-sighted policy only augmented the supply a hundred- 
fold, for the people took to breeding them, as they did in 
the case of crocodiles when crocodile eggs were paid for. 
However, rewards were not often offered on the west coast, 
where our home mostly was, the people's objection to 
destroying them being, as I have said, a religious matter 
and not to be bought off by bribes. This principle holds 
good all over India. 

In the native quarter of this town there was a temple, in 
connection with which was a sacred tope, or grove, of the 
wild fig, the small scarlet berry of which tree, according 
to a legend many centuries older than Christianity, was the 
undoing of the mother of all living — Eve, as we Westerns 
call her. 

Round the great trunk of the largest tree in this grove 
was a wall or terrace, some five feet high, built up of stone 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 71 

and cement, ages old, and on its wide, smooth surface were 
always to be seen several cobras, either slumbering or 
moving drowsily towards the food unfailingly placed there 
for them by the priests and the worshippers at the shrine. 1 
These snakes lived constantly under the shelter of the 
sacred stately tree, rearing their broods in the recesses of its 
trunk, and basking in the sun on the terrace prepared for 
their use. Thus tended they kept to their own home, and 
were carefully guarded lest harm should befall them at the 
hands of any one to whom their persons were not so sacred. 
They were far too well housed and fed to think of being in 
the least vicious. Perfectly at ease and harming no one, 
they let themselves be handled freely, or made necklaces 
of, by those who gave them fresh milk, eggs, cooked rice, 
and other delicacies. And yet they were not rendered in- 
capable of dealing death had they been so minded, not 
being deprived of their poison fangs or mutilated in any 
way ; to do that would have been deemed desecration 
and an evidence of want of faith — a real, working faith 
that, by the way. Thus was respect for their ancestors 
shown by the people in caring for them in their pre- 
sent incarnation. 

At a place called Capecotes, some distance from Calicut, 
but also in Malabar, there was, and probably is still, a very 
extraordinary temple or church of quite a different kind, 
which strangers are welcome to see. 

I believe it was first erected by the early Portuguese 
settlers of the fifteenth century ; but the worship conducted 
there must have been a very bastard form of Christianity, 
judging by the appearance of the place. Indeed, on entering 
it and looking round it was hard to know what manner 
of church it could be. 

The building was of country stone, roofed with tiles ; 

1 The cobras themselves were not objects of worship, but venerated as the 
form in which ancestors were living. 



72 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

seven bells hung in a row over the door, in front of which 
stood a pillar made of wirework, nearly as high as a ship's 
mast, with a weathercock at the top. 

Visitors were met by four men — some kind of mini- 
strants or servitors of the temple — scantily attired from 
the waist to the knees in calico, and having each of 
them three strings over the right shoulder tied under the 
left arm. 

These men sprinkled the party with water from a fountain, 
and gave each person powdered sandalwood to strew on his 
head, making the sign of the cross themselves. 

The images inside and painted round the walls had such 
frightful faces and forms as to suggest anything but saints 
and angels, so that some devout Portuguese Roman 
Catholics who were amongst the visitors began to doubt 
whether it could be a Christian church after all. In the 
centre was a small chapel, where stood an image which, 
from the darkness of the place, could be seen but very in- 
distinctly. None but the priest might enter here. He 
paused before the figure and chanted in quite a fine voice, 
' Maria ! Maria ! ' Whereupon some natives who were 
following behind fell flat on their faces three separate 
times, and the Portuguese, taking it to be an image of the 
Virgin, dropped on their knees and prayed. 

In Calicut, as in most largish towns, there is a vast tank, 
with immensely deep, shelving sides, and steps to the 
water's edge, built of solid masonry, and ancient before 
history was. At certain times this tank is blessed, and 
then the people are eager to bathe, and children are dipped 
in it. It is now ' holy ' water, and, though the reverse of 
pure, is swallowed with a fine faith in its efficacy to cure 
disease. 

Ordinarily the level borders round the tank are crowded 
with booths, where fruit, toys, sweetmeats, vegetables, 
etc., are sold ; and the people squat about, washing their 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 73 

clothes or their feet, or using the water for any other pur- 
pose that occurs to them — and, of course, drinking it. We 
lived in that district for several years, but I never heard 
of the tank in Calicut being empty, so I do not know how 
it was cleansed. 



74 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER VII 

Calicut — The Zamorin and his palace — The Thears — Domestic scenes — 
Feeding the babies — Natives callous to animal suffering — The 
Moplahs — Malabar law — Christian and ■ heathen ' servants — ' Idol 
worship ' — Logan-harri — Missions and missionaries. 

Calicut, whose sacred cobras and strange, composite 
temple I have described, is one of the most interesting 
towns in Malabar, owing to its great antiquity. 

It gives the name to calico, being the first place whence 
Europeans got cotton cloth. Here, too, is the favourite 
residence of the Zamorin (ruler), a native potentate. 

The honour of an audience was once accorded to some 
English and Portuguese gentlemen, who would not be 
likely to forget the experience, bought, as it was, at too 
high a cost, to their thinking. 

They were conducted by the court officials through lovely 
shady gardens, with fountains, running rosewater, here and 
there. Some dozen men preceded them, armed with sticks, 
to clear the way, for the disorderly mob thronged through 
with the party in order to catch a sight of the Zamorin. 
Such was the crush that several were squeezed to death ; but, 
in deference to European notions as to the sacredness of 
human life, the affair was hushed up at the time, and no 
fuss that I know of was ever made about it afterwards. 

The Zamorin received them very courteously. His dress 
was simplicity itself, consisting of a white calico jacket, and 
straightly wound petticoat like that of his subjects, but 
it was heavy with gold embroidery and sprays and adorn- 
ments of beaten gold ; his fingers and toes blazed with jewels. 

The hall contained but little furniture ; what there was 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 75 

was of ivory, cushioned with red silk, and a palanquin 
lay to hand. This was very gorgeous ; all gold and silver 
and red silk curtains, and having ivory poles tipped with 
gold elephants. 

Images stood about in niches, decked with necklaces of 
huge sapphires and pearls. Fruit and sherbet were served, 
and then, after an interchange of compliments through an 
interpreter, the audience was at an end. 

Calicut was a busy trading port long before the great 
Portuguese admiral, Vasco da Gama, came to an anchor 
on the coast of Malabar, a few miles from the town, on the 
20th of May 1498. He found it full of Moors and Arabs, 
who were the traders of the then known world ; and their 
descendants have adopted the land as their own, har- 
monising, but never inter-marrying, with the original in- 
habitants, who are called Thears. Theans is the proper 
plural, I believe. These last are a handsome race, with 
straight hair and pale olive complexions — wonderfully pale 
for natives of India — and with features so regular as to 
become almost monotonous, for all look alike. There is 
not a hooked nose to be seen among them, whereas that 
is a very usual trait with the Moplahs, who are of Arab 
extraction. The men are very tall ; the women are pretty 
up to the age of fifteen or so, but they age and fade rapidly, 
as do all native women ; their blue-black shining hair is 
very loosely gathered into a knot on the top of the head, 
whence it falls round the ears and neck in a very graceful 
way, and is secured with long silver, or perhaps only 
wooden, skewers. They adopt no two ways of dressing their 
hair, so every woman's head is alike. The men's heads 
are shaved almost bare. 

On this west coast, whilst going about their business out 
of doors, the people may be seen wearing an ingeniously 
simple protection from the sun, and rain, too, in its season 
— a sort of round tray made of palm leaves stitched together, 



76 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

and fitting the head like our hats, only that the crown is 
beneath the brim. 

Seeing these people for the first time, Europeans are apt 
to be shocked, for the women wear no clothing above the 
waist. With their darker skins, however, it is not so con- 
spicuous as it would be otherwise ; at any rate one gets 
used to it, as one does to many another strange sight, un- 
pleasant ones, too, in many cases, among which I may 
name their habit of attending to their own and their 
children's hair in public. This they do in the most careful 
manner, scrutinising every lock, chatting merrily the while, 
not one whit disgusted, let alone surprised, at their findings ; 
the surprise, indeed, would most surely lie the other way. 
This is part of the daily toilet, never omitted, and per- 
formed in the open at any time as they squat in the street 
or, in the case of the more select, on their own small veran- 
dahs. Children perform these kind offices for each other in 
the intervals of play or squabbling. Not that these habits 
are peculiar to Malabar ; you may see the same thing 
going on in every bazaar street all day long all over India. 

While speaking thus slightingly of certain native customs, 
it is but fair to mention others that are more pleasing, such 
as their scrupulous care of their teeth. The first duty 
taught to a child is attention to its little mouth and pearly 
teeth. In that respect at least these primitive people 
have nothing to learn, and a good deal to teach. The 
brush used is a far better one than ours, being simply a 
twig of a certain tree — the neem tree. 1 They cut a twig 
a few inches long, scrape up one end, and as the wood is very- 
fibrous, the brush is ready. These twigs have a refresh- 
ingly clean taste, are astringent, and slightly bitter. I 
have often used them, and preferred them, too, combining 
as they do — with efficacy and agreeableness — the purposes 
of both brush and powder. 

1 Or margosa, Melia Azadirachta. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 77 

You may also see, and will be welcome to watch, purely 
domestic scenes, such as a man seated in a great tub, 
knees to chin, while his wife pours potfuls of water over 
him. And, standing round the oil shops, many a one of 
those who can afford the luxury — women as well as men, 
for there is no mock modesty about these people — may be 
observed oiling themselves in the open street, all happy and 
contented as the process is being completed and they shine 
again. That, however, is not their object ; they do it to 
make their skins soft and supple during the hot, dry, windy 
days, when everything is parched, and so much of the sur- 
face of their bodies being exposed to the sun and air, they 
find themselves more comfortable for this anointing. 

Another scene, exclusively of the nursery, is quite 
ordinary and taken no notice of. A woman will be seen 
standing about, evidently expecting some one, for she looks 
up and down the street anxiously as she shades her eyes 
with her hand. She is a ' coffee-garbler ' — one of the 
hundreds employed in the factories here at sorting over 
the berries before they are packed for export. It seems 
she has a tiny infant ; she cannot have it with her as she 
wants her hands for her work, so she leaves it at home 
in a cloth slung up high to a beam by ropes, out of reach 
of sniffing dogs. Only two things are in her mind as she 
stands there : the wailing mite and her inability to get 
to it except at long intervals ; yet it mustn't go hungry. 
She knows nothing of ' artificial foods,' but she can solve 
her own problem. 

Presently a little girl or boy comes along carrying a tin 
mug, which is held up steadily for her in two plump hands 
while she fills it from her breast, not a touch of self -con- 
sciousness about her the while as she exchanges chit-chat 
with her acquaintances passing to and fro. Then she bids 
the child have a good, refreshing drink before departing 
(otherwise temptation might prove too strong), gently 



78 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

tipping up the mug that there may be no stint here either. 
It is then borne away, ever so carefully. How the milk is 
administered to the baby at home I don't know — probably 
with a rag ; but there is no doubt of its reaching its ultimate 
destination safely, if one may judge of the plan by the 
many fat brown things rolling about the road, seemingly 
general property, who were all more or less brought up thus. 

Other sights objectionable to Europeans, even to those 
who have no more than a tolerance for animals, but 
causing grief and pain to those who love them, are only 
too common in these Indian villages ; for though many 
castes will not take life the people are supremely callous 
to suffering in animals, and will see existence prolonged 
under appalling circumstances without a second glance, 
far less pity, or any thought of affording relief . 

A bullock with it back broken lies where it fell, and will 
continue so to lie till death ends its sufferings, if no European 
interfere. 

A crow plucked of every feather, hanging head down- 
wards, and fluttering and screaming out its tortured life, 
as a living scarecrow, is an ordinary object on the verandahs 
of grain and sweetmeat sellers. Europeans soon find that 
to buy such a victim, in order that it may be put out of 
pain, is but to create a precedent ; so what to do for the 
real best becomes a question when this sort of thing meets 
your eye — and you may trust a native to see that it does 
do so if you are known to object to such practices — to pass 
on and do nothing being a sheer impossibility. But you 
may be sure of seeing another miserable bird in the same 
position next day — a succession of them, indeed, with 
variations as long as anything can be made by it. Even 
where an Act exists for the protection of animals, the gift 
of a cocoanut or its value, a few pice, would settle the 
matter with the local constable. Much can be, and is, 
done by European officials, but all depends on their in- 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 79 

dividual natures and way of looking at things, as natives 
have a genius for finding out how the wind blows, and 
trimming their sails accordingly. In places where F. was 
paramount such sights as those instanced above were not 
obtruded ; and a few other customs, such as the extortion 
of confessions by torture, which we English, at any rate, 
have outgrown, were not practised. They were kept in 
abeyance ; to change them was beyond the power of any 
man. 

Another thing of a different kind, horrifying to our eyes, 
though having a good motive, is to be seen in these bazaars 
of Malabar amongst the Mahommedan Moplahs, a fine, 
manly set of people. During certain festivals, or rather 
on the days of penance therewith connected, or in fulfilment 
of some vow, they attend to their business as oil, grain, or 
calico merchants, as the case may be, haggling and jabber- 
ing for hours over the value of half a farthing while blood 
is dropping from, or has dried upon, a gaping wound in the 
cheek through which a piece of wood has been thrust, kept 
in the wound too, there being no intention of letting it heal 
as yet, the men behaving all the time exactly as if the self- 
inflicted and purely voluntary torture did not exist. 

In these shops the merchant sits on his narrow verandah 
with his wares displayed behind him on shelves, on the 
floor, or on a tiny stool raised not more than three inches 
from the ground. He would not hesitate to leave his 
property unguarded for hours if he had business elsewhere ; 
no one would meddle with anything there. These Moplah 
merchants will drive a very hard bargain, but they are 
honourable in business, scrupulously carrying out their 
part of a contract whether in dealing amongst themselves or 
with Europeans. F. had many opportunities of observing 
this in their timber and produce transactions with the 
Forest Department, and he always spoke of their strict 
integrity as contrasting favourably with the less rigid honesty 



80 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

of some European firms ; nor was it owing to simplicity : 
the subtle Eastern intellect would never let itself be over- 
reached. 

Malabar law is said to be one of the most intricate of 
systems, the law of inheritance being specially strange to 
our notions ; for property passes, not to a man's own 
children, but to his nephews, his sister's children, or to an 
adopted son. Instead of paper or parchment the leaves 
of a palm tree are used. On these, title-deeds, memorable 
events, and so forth, are inscribed with a sharp-pointed 
pen or instrument, and then the leaves, having been reduced 
into a regular form — strips some twelve inches long and 
two inches wide — are tied up between two pieces of polished 
wood. 

No Moplah ever enters European service as a house 
servant, though other natives of the west coast do — the 
men, that is, never the women — making the very perfection 
of servants. They are clean beyond praise ; bathing before 
meals is an integral part of their religion faithfully observed 
by all, old and young, no matter how occupied or how 
poor they may be. And here I must admit, without 
meaning any offence to our many missionary friends, that 
in my experience (some years ago) Christian servants were 
at a discount, excepting in mission households. The rest 
of us made no secret of our preference for the unconverted, 
whom we found honest and loyal. These people do live 
up to their beliefs with whatever motive, be it fear, super- 
stition, or what not, and though ' heathen ' were far and 
away above the level of the ordinary native, or ' biscuit ' 
Christian convert. The term ' biscuit,' as thus used, 
explains itself, implying that a man has become a Christian 
only for what he can get by it. Such a one, if he thinks 
he is likely to be engaged, will certainly say when asked of 
what religion he may be, ' Same like master,' in order to 
ingratiate himself, having already found out of what ' like ' 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 81 

religion the proposed master is. This may impose upon 
new-comers to India, perhaps ; no one else wants them 
if they can arrange otherwise. Therefore we always chose 
good ' heathen ' servants. Of all words that word ' heathen ' 
is the most misleading and the most hateful to Anglo- 
Indian ears. 

Nothing could be further from the truth than the idea, 
even now to a great extent prevalent in England, that 
natives — I am only concerned with my own familiar India 
— worship the idols and images in their magnificent temples 
or wayside shrines. The hideous or grotesque figures to 
be met with at every turn — for religion and its observances 
form part of the daily fife's routine — are merely emblematic 
of the attributes of Deity, and are not intended to represent 
the Deity Himself ; not primarily that is, though they 
have come to do so to the common eye. They are not the 
' false gods ' one used to hear so much about at missionary 
meetings, nor are they ' bowed down to ' as such ; at any 
rate not by thinking and educated persons. Everywhere 
are to be found superstitious minds and a crafty priest- 
hood, from the very beginnings of things to now ; not in 
India alone nor in savage lands alone. That they turn 
religion to their own worldly advantage is an old charge 
laid at the door of the teachers of creeds, and no truer than 
other sweeping assertions. 

One very hideous image (its name I have forgotten) 
has the forehead of a man ; the trunk of an elephant, eyes 
set all round the head ; a serpent with jewelled eyes, its 
tail in its mouth, pendent from the neck ; innumerable 
intertwining arms and legs, hands and feet ; with other 
monstrosities of person. The question naturally arises, 
What does it all mean, as taught by good priests, of whom 
there are surely some ? I will endeavour to answer it as 
explained to me. 

The man's forehead is the emblem of reason and judg- 

F 



82 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

ment, and the single eye in the centre is the ' Eye of 
Enlightenment ' ; the elephant's trunk suggests innate 
power, the circle of eyes means all-seeing ; the serpent 
signifies eternal, a serpent with its tail in its mouth having 
been the universal emblem of eternity from the most hoary 
antiquity in all lands and among all peoples. The count- 
less members symbolise the abstract ideas of all-pervading, 
all-controlling, and all-creating in every place at the same 
time. What is this but the Jehovah of the Old Testament 
and our own Christian God — Omniscient, Omnipotent, 
Immanent — crudely, coarsely, if you like, here symbolised. 
Truly if one will but look with the understanding, inner 
eye, God, the One and the Same, is to be discerned in the 
kernel and marrow of every creed, in every age, and in 
every consciousness. 

Many a lesson have I learnt during talks with my 
1 heathen ' ayahs, from one especially, who was with me 
for many years, and only left me when I bid my last good- 
bye to India. Her name — rather a musical one — was 
Logan-harri ; she came to me when she was twenty-five, 
a grandmother already ! On my asking her once why she 
put flowers and kept a tiny lamp burning in a certain spot 
— the hollow of a tree in an avenue — she answered me with 
another question : ' Why does Little Missus put flowers in 
front of Big Missus' picture always ? ' which was true of 
me. By the ' Big Missus ' she meant my dear mother in 
England, while I was the ' Little Missus.' She spoke very 
pretty, fluent English. I understood her thought, and 
was answered, also rebuked. ' Only that why, Missus.' 
And she went on to explain about the lamp, which signified 
' a light in a dark place ' ; thus had she been taught 
by her priests. I never forgot that short ' heathen ' 
sermon. 

One morning I had a visit from a Salvation Army lass. 
Began she : ' Was ' my ' ayah a Christian ? ' so I sum- 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 83 

moned Logan-harri to answer for herself. She was equal 
to it, I knew. 

' No, Missie ; I heathen.' 

' Would you like to be a Christian ? ' 

' Yes, Missie ' (ever so humbly), ' if Missie please tell what 
kind Christian.' 

' What kind of Christian ! ' rashly cried the Salvation 
Army lass. ' Why, to believe in Christ, the Saviour of the 
world.' And she ran through the heads of our creed quickly, 
but solemnly and most earnestly, in her anxiety to secure 
a convert in this inquiring heathen. 

' Yes, Missie, I know, but very plenty kind Christians. 
What kind Missie want me to be ? There 's you Missie 
kind, the Salvation Army ; and my Missus' kind, Pra- 
testan Church ; there 's Roman Catholic, and Presby- 
tran, and London mission, and German mission. Missie 
please, which I be ? ' And she looked up innocently, not 
without a glint of malice too, into the rather blank face 
of the lass, who attempted no answer to the pointed question, 
and said nothing more to the ayah about her conversion. 
I thought the fact of there being so many different Christian 
missions as puzzling to the heathen mind as it was true, 
and it was not altogether pleasant to be so reminded of it. 

The most effective Christianising influences at that time 
in India were undoubtedly those of the missionaries, whether 
Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Nonconformist, and of the 
German or Lutheran missions, on account of the self-deny- 
ing lives of their respective members. Without exception, 
amongst the numbers that we knew, each one lived hardly, 
not to say in penury, whether in their mission quarters, 
or travelling about the country in a single bullock-cart — 
jolting, springless ; sleeping in or under it ; oftentimes 
with no companion but the driver, faring as he did, though, 
until acclimatised, tried by the rough life as he would never 
be ; regardless of danger from infection and also from 



84 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

fanaticism. Being always possessed of some medical skill, 
these missionaries might expect to be tolerated, if not 
exactly welcomed, in most places on account of their 
helpfulness. Doing good wherever possible, even if not 
converting many, their lives were the best commentary 
on their teachings. 

The Government chaplains, on the contrary, were sup- 
posed to make a pretty good thing of it ; in no sense was 
their work a ' mission,' nor did it lead them into the by- 
ways of hardship and risk. Socially they considered 
themselves many cuts above their missionary brethren, 
who devoted themselves entirely to their calling, hardly 
taking any part in the social life or amusements of a station. 

In what I have said I have made a rough generalisation. 
To my first statement — regarding the missionaries and their 
devoted lives — we met with no exceptions ; to the com- 
parative worldliness of the others, we knew many and 
grand ones. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 85 



CHAPTER VIII 

Fighting bears — The hat-trick — Encounters with panthers — Hog deer and 
leopard-cat kitten. 

My ayah, Logan-ham, was with me in many an expedition ; 
she was always confident that where the Doray was there 
was safety, not merely from wild beasts, but from the 
' evil eye,' as potent a bit of witchcraft in Eastern as it is 
in Western lands. The jungles and their denizens had no 
more terrors for her than for me, and she would not have 
been scared away, as was that faint-hearted creature of 
earlier days, when the bear came to investigate our camp ; 
still, neither of us was altogether proof against alarm, and 
we could run on occasion. Once, indeed, we could hardly 
do even that for sheer terror. We were strolling about, 
never far from camp, when such awful sounds issued from a 
wood, waking the echoes there, as made us look at each 
other dumb with fright. Whither to run we knew not, for 
the noise seemed all around, and neither could we climb 
to any purpose ; yet, though we felt it was quite impossible 
to stop where we were, our feet seemed turned to lead, and 
she, poor thing ! fell down. I was very rough, dragging, 
and, as I remember, kicking her, for her own good, to force 
her to move. However, we did manage to reach the camp, 
and on my describing to F. the general awfulness of the 
sounds he said that he too had heard them, and that they 
were made by bears fighting in the depths of the wood, 
very much too busy to think of aught else, so that we had 
not been in any danger. 

Once again the same sort of snarling yells startled us, 



86 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

but, remembering the explanation given us before, we were 
not so much perturbed, and guided by the sound of the 
uproar looked about for its cause. Not far off we soon 
discovered three bears, two of which were locked in mortal 
combat, while the third was running round and round them, 
every now and then raising itself on its hind legs and wring- 
ing its fore paws, whimpering and whining, in the deepest 
distress, without any anger in the tone — the very gestures 
and manner of one beseeching the combatants to cease their 
strife, just as a lady of olden time might have prayed two 
gallants to be reconciled for her sake. But the bears had no 
idea of such magnanimity ; they rolled over and over, never 
letting go, biting, tearing, hugging savagely enough to 
crush the breath out of each other, and all the while yelling 
with fury. The sight and sound were enough to freeze any 
one's blood, the fight not being a sham or behind iron bars. 
As there was nowhere to hide we tried to run away, but 
fell at almost every step as we tore headlong over the 
tussocky grass and uneven, stony ground, not daring to 
look behind. Nobody was paying any attention to us — 
except to laugh ! — as we were told by F. when he came 
in that evening, laughing again at the recollection, which 
he said was so amusing ! 

' Yes, I saw you ; we all saw you and your ayah trying 
to break your ankles running away from nothing.' (He 
called it ' nothing ' !) ' Those bears were fighting over a 
female bear, none of them noticed you, and wouldn't have 
interfered with you if they had. There was nothing for 
you to be frightened at.' My private opinion, and Logan- 
harri's too, was that ninety-nine people out of a hundred 
would have thought there was a good deal more than 
* nothing ' and have behaved as we did. 

' You ought to have been with us,' F. went on ; 'it 
was a grand sight. We saw the scrimmage to the finish. 
One of them rolled the other over, disabling him for the 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 87 

time, and walked off with his mate.' It seems the lady 
bear would always prefer the victor in these combats. 

But F. ran away himself once (as I was never tired of 
reminding him !), and came staggering into camp one even- 
ing quite exhausted, saying that he had accidentally dis- 
turbed a bear feasting on rock-honey, whereupon the animal 
had turned angrily and made for him. For once he was 
not carrying a rifle, not having meant to go far from home, 
so there was nothing to do but to run for it ; and run he did, 
and his dog to. He said he was sure there was once or 
twice no more than a yard or two between the bear and 
himself, and more than once he felt its hot breath upon 
him, the bear not being impeded by the rough ground 
as he was. In the end, when his chance of escape was 
getting uncomfortably doubtful, an inspiration came to him. 
Turning quickly, and taking his courage ' in both hands,' 
he pulled his soft, wide-brimmed felt hat off his own head 
and put it on the bear's, ramming it well down over the 
eyes, in the certainty of at least arresting his pursuer and 
gaining for himself a desperately needed breathing space, 
as well as a moment's start for yet another race for life, for 
few animals can cover the ground faster than a bear when 
put to it. The ruse succeeded. Bruin was fairly ' bon- 
neted ' and blindfold, standing stock-still for an instant, 
and then running round and round himself aimlessly, 
having lost his bearings. But it might be only a short 
respite ; not even to look at so comical a sight as a bear 
in a hat could F. afford to linger. He gathered himself 
together for a final, steady run, and got safely into camp. 
He did not arrive so soon as the dog, however, who was 
quite composed by now. F. was done up for the moment, 
but was presently able to congratulate himself on having 
thought of the trick. The bear had, doubtless, returned 
to his interrupted feast after getting rid of the hat 
by rolling. 



88 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

I don't think my husband was ever taken unawares ; at 
least when the crucial moment came he could always face 
it, sometimes did so literally, as in this case ! He told me 
that he was thinking hard, all through that stern chase, 
of everything he had ever heard or read of the same kind, 
and suddenly remembered the hat-trick being employed 
by an Indian trapper in a story by Fenimore Cooper — one 
of the books of his own boyhood — and thought it worth 
trying ; for lungs and legs were threatening to give out, 
the bear was manifestly gaining on him, and there would 
not be much more time. ' Who hesitates is lost ' is true 
in so many crises, while, as has so often been proved, a 
little daring and craft will easily get the better of brute 
strength. 

For myself, if ever in my wanderings round about our 
camp it seemed getting too solitary and strange, or if I 
found that I was beyond earshot of the familiar sounds 
of our people, dogs, and other camp noises, I turned and 
made my way back speedily, having no fancy for an awk- 
ward rencontre ; yet within the distance of a stone's throw 
from the camp such an adventure befell me twice. 

We were in the cardamom forests, where much of my 
husband's work lay, and near our camp was a small 
mountain pool by which I loved to sit. One day, for a 
wonder, the dogs were not with me ; they had started, 
but something attracted them back, and I went on 
alone — very fortunately as it chanced ; for as I sat by 
the pool, looking into the still, dark water and at the 
pretty shifting lights falling between the boughs overhead, 
I descried the reflection of a panther's face, much too near 
me as I thought, the animal being on my bank of the pool. 
At such times one's instinct is to keep quiet, holding one's 
breath, unless one be of the screaming order. Turning 
only my eyes, I saw the beautiful, sleek body lying almost 
flat as he drank. Meanwhile he had caught sight of my 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 89 

reflection, and lifted his head, the water dripping from 
his jaws, and gazed full at me. Then he backed, absolutely 
without a sound or the faintest rustle of the fallen leaves, 
just like a scared cat (which indeed he was), creeping away 
into safety for itself. That was all he cared about ; that 
is all they ever do care about, these wild things, no 
matter what stories sensation- writers may invent. 

But the beauty of him ! His coat was of gleaming 
tawny satin, with jetty rosettes, and his eyes of aqua- 
marine, as I could see while they were glaring into mine. 

I felt quite sorry he had let himself be interrupted before 
finishing his drink comfortably ; for I may truly say that 
all fear on my side vanished on seeing how he behaved, 
keeping his eyes on me furtively, for fear of my flying at 
him, I suppose ! whilst, in reality, he could have made such 
very short work of me had he but known it. 

On the second and similar occasion I almost stumbled 
over a panther, again close to the tents. We came face 
to face as I was turning the angle of a rock, under the shelv- 
ing base of which he had been enjoying his noonday siesta. 
He was in the act of stretching himself preparatory to stroll- 
ing off, and so near were we that he could have laid his 
paw upon me had he not been as frightened as I was. Far 
from wanting to do anything of the sort, he shrank back, 
flattened himself, and then turned on his stomach as on a 
pivot, and so crawled for a little way, till he could pluck 
up heart to gather his limbs together for a bound into 
cover, like the other panther instinctively making his own 
safety his first thought. 

These encounters did not last long, not so much as a 
minute perhaps, but on each occasion my eyes met those 
of the panther, and we looked full at each other. What 
they saw in mine I cannot imagine, but I saw in theirs 
abject terror, and question as to how to save themselves 
without my stopping them. I suppose my appearance 



90 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

filled them with affright as something they did not under- 
stand. The unknown is always terrifying to the wild 
nature, whether of a tiny field-mouse that scurries back to 
its nest in the hedge, scared to death at a footstep, or of 
the princely tiger himself, who slinks away into the familiar, 
friendly depths of his jungles at the scent or sight of man. 

Yet it is certain that as we moved about in those forests 
we were observed by many a creature that we never saw. 
Of all animals commend me to a panther for inquisitive- 
ness ; he will follow, nay downright stalk, you from no other 
motive, himself, I need hardly say, well hidden the while, 
as F. discovered one day when he suspected the presence 
of some creature watching him. He was after bison, and 
would not let any other quest turn him aside, only seeing 
that the dogs kept to heel. The next day, on searching 
about, he found plain proofs that a panther had followed 
him. Through the livelong day this espionage had been 
kept up. 

I may mention here a strange error I have often noticed 
in drawings and paintings of lions, tigers, and other animals 
of the same family. All the felines, small and great alike, 
walk with the legs of the same side moving together in a 
step, while other animals move theirs, as it were, cornerwise. 
This distinction is commonly ignored, though the tabby 
proof of it may lie no farther off than on the hearthrug ! 

With regard to the panther incidents related above, F. 
was rather envious of my ' unheard of luck ' — so thrown 
away upon me — for though he went about in search of 
such meetings they never fell to his lot accidentally. 

I do not wish to represent myself as wonderfully cour- 
ageous. In neither of those two instances was there any 
leading up on my part ; indeed, had I known of a panther 
being anywhere near the pool or the rock most surely I 
had not stirred out of camp. To walk open-eyed up to 
danger when necessary, that is where the courage comes in. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 91 

I will now tell of an occasion when the writer of these 
notes played by no means a heroic part. 

A day's sport had been arranged for the entertainment 
of two shikar friends of F.'s, then on leave, and he was 
keen to show them something good. The proposed scene 
of action was not far from camp — a nullah, or ravine — 
where a wild boar had his lair, a huge fellow that had been 
marked down as a worthy object for the sportsmen's 
prowess. I was to bear a part in the day's programme, and 
with a dog or two was assigned a station at a point of 
vantage, from which, if the boar broke cover below, I was 
to turn him by waving my arms and throwing down small 
pebbles, etc., with the idea of causing him to alter his 
course and head upwards towards the rifles and away from 
me, I being without one. As I stood there I, of course, 
kept a close watch upon everything in the ravine and 
along its sides ; and the dogs watched me the while in 
perfect silence. Dear things ! I don't think they quite 
understood my being there, and supposed themselves to 
be on guard over me, or their trained eyes would have 
been on the downward lookout too. It happened — con- 
trary to my secret wish — that the boar did break cover just 
below me, and came pounding up through the long reeds 
and bushes from his hiding-place among the sedges in 
the nullah, whence the men, with their teasing stones, 
had dislodged him. The grizzly head, the great yellow- 
white, gleaming tushes were making straight for me — no 
mistake about it ! At the first sight of him every idea but 
that of flight was gone. I stood not ' upon the order of ' 
my going, but went at once, full pelt, the dogs after me. 

No doubt the boar could have caught me up soon enough 
had he been so minded — and if he had I should not have 
been writing here — but he did not even maintain the chase 
very long. The behaviour of the dogs, first lagging and 
then trotting leisurely, might have shown me that they saw 



92 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

nothing to run from, so when I at length dared to glance 
over my shoulder there was no boar in sight. Meanwhile 
not a shot had been fired. Evidently the day's sport was 
spoilt ; but little cared I, though destined to hear plenty 
about it later, and that not in the way of congratulation or 
praise. Never again did F. make arrangements for me to be 
of the party when they were after pig, nor did I ask to go. 

Once F. brought back from a pig-sticking excursion a 
lovely little hog deer — so called from the slight resem- 
blance of its curved back to that of the boar tribe. The 
grass had been fired, and its mother was unable to rescue 
it ; but he did so, and carried it all day inside his shirt, 
riding though he was, and with a long spear to manage. 
Neither did he shorten the day's sport on its account : he 
fed it with a rag dipped in milk, and it slept warm and safe. 
So tiny was this little creature that it stood easily on one's 
hand. It had the neatest little black hoofs, and in a short 
time sprouting horns. If put out it would paw the ground 
angrily and ever so majestically, just like any other stag. 
Hog deer never stand higher than ten or eleven inches even 
when full grown, and are rarely found. In spite of our 
care for it this one came to an untimely end. When it 
was being taught to eat grass — not taking to it naturally as 
you would think — a small truss was accidentally left in its 
bed, and it fed then to such purpose as to become ' hoven ' 
— an extended state of the stomach — and it did not recover. 

Another quaint pet once brought home by F. was a 
leopard-cat kitten, whose mother had deserted it, or more 
likely been shot. When full grown it was not so big as 
an ordinary cat, and a perfect miniature leopard — panther 
as we called it — in form and colouring ; its every movement 
betokening the jungle-bred creature. As a kitten it was 
desperately wild, and never became really domesticated, 
though it was gentle enough with those it knew, yet not 
moving freely among them, always skirting the sides of 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 93 

the room or verandah in surreptitious fashion ; at the same 
time it was fearless, and also when young it liked to be 
nursed. We fed it only on brown bread and milk — white 
bread it would not touch — which it always liked, even when 
it was grown up. Before it was well out of its kitten- 
hood the forest instincts awoke. By day content to lie 
up indoors, just at four o'clock it would yawn, stretch its 
tiny limbs, and wander off, uttering a very peculiar grating 
cry, not in the least cat-like, to prowl about just as its 
wild brothers would do at the self-same hour ; sometimes 
creeping in again late at night, when it was seldom hungry, 
having perhaps had a successful raid amongst our chickens 
if it had not been watched. 

Another curious thing about this kitten was its love of 
water, in this differing from the ordinary household pet, 
whose detestation of it is proverbial. It would play with 
it from choice, often jumping on to the dinner table to dip 
its paws into the finger-glasses. It could swim like a duck 
too, and enjoyed crossing a narrow stream that ran through 
the garden. Panthers are the same in this respect, proving 
that our kitten was more panther than cat. It was, however, 
quite friendly with our cats, though not mating with them. 

One evening a lady who was dining with us was startled 
by seeing her dinner — a snipe — suddenly snatched off her 
plate just as she was beginning upon it by some creature 
that she could see was not a cat, and which she said she 
thought was a young wild beast. It was ' Koori,' then full 
grown, though hardly cat size. We had heard the grating 
cry heralding a visit, but thought the sight of strangers 
might scare him away. He knew no fear, however, with a 
meal on that snipe in prospect. We saw him look round, 
sniffing, and then, like a lightning-flash, leap up under our 
guest's arm ; and the snipe was gone — ' Koori ' too ! Pursuit 
would have been vain ; he had vanished into the darkness 
of the garden, and was no more seen that night. 



94 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Sometimes, though rarely, it would climb upon one's lap. 
F. was his first favourite, the reason being very plain, 
namely, that he always wore flannel, and there was nothing 
this kitten liked better to eat, swallowing every bit of the 
wool ! Many a large hole did it gnaw under his coat, while 
seemingly asleep on his shoulder, being in reality very wide 
awake ; for it growled at the least movement — a mite of 
a growl certainly, but an angry one. Even when F. knew 
what was going on he never interfered. Far from being 
vexed, I verily believe that so long as it was not harm- 
ing itself — its own instincts would prevent that — he felt 
flattered at being made so free with by the savage, or 
rather untamable, little thing ; for such it was to the last, 
though condescending to eat our food, at the same time 
roaming about the scrub and bushes, just like any beast 
of prey in the wilds. Indoors, when not sleeping, it was 
always on the lookout for something woollen — a sock was 
a joyful find. Nothing could hang within its reach with- 
out the edges being fringed and the corners chewed off — a 
little tablecloth among other things was much relished ; the 
only plan was to keep it provided with bits of flannel. In 
regard to this habit, as well as in the fancy for water, two 
other leopard-cats we had at different times were the same 
as ' Koori ' ; not outgrowing it either, though none of them 
stayed with us after reaching maturity, wandering farther 
and farther afield, returning at longer intervals, and at 
length never being seen again. In each case we heard 
them unmistakably several times. Food was put for 
them in the accustomed places, but never taken, as we 
knew by there being no footmarks in the plate, it being a 
habit of theirs to stand in their food — all of them did the 
same. So we did not fear for their being starved, the less so 
as it was just at the same age that each left us, to please 
itself in obeying its own vagrant instincts. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 95 



CHAPTER IX 

River scenery — Kus-has grass — Crocodiles — Riverside folk — Riding on 
gourds — Malaria — The Bamboo stone — Pigmies, their food and dress 
— Methods in illness and old age. 

Our fishing expeditions were those most of all to my mind 
because of the enchanting country into which they carried 
us. 

Imagine a stretch of river fringed with swaying 
bamboos, its surface of lake-like stillness, shimmering blue 
under a vivid sky, and everywhere starred with water- 
lilies resting on their broad, shining leaves, which float 
languidly in the furnace heat. Dotted here and there 
are numerous islets, softly grey-green with palms and tall 
fern fronds, their reflections as lovely as themselves ; while 
on either side are alleys of shade, refreshing merely to 
look into, where the water darkly quivers beneath leafy, 
flickering shadows. Many as lovely a region there is, I 
doubt not ; a more lovely one there could never be. 

Here grew the kus-hus grass, the sweet-scented roots of 
which are made into fans — the great circular fans with 
eight-foot handles resting on the floor, and waved by 
attendants behind their masters ; and also smaller ones. 
The roots are spread in a thick, wide fringe round a centre- 
piece of very light wood, gaily painted and jewelled if 
for princely hands. I have several of these fans. When 
wetted they give out a delightful fragrance, and a whiff 
of their Eastern breath can waft me back, as with a 
magician's wand, amongst those Indian surroundings, so 
vivid in my recollection. 



96 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Beautiful as Paradise, this place — called Serimungalem — 
was like Paradise, too, in being provided with its serpent, 
here in the form of crocodiles, generally called ' muggers/ 
But for them bathing would have been delightful ; as it 
was, the idea of it was only tantalising ; for though the 
people living about didn't mind them, we did. The creatures 
lay basking on the mossy banks and sandy reaches, looking 
so exactly like logs that one might easily make the mistake 
of taking a seat on one. Very bold they were, too ; if not 
attacking, yet neither getting away, and apt to try chances 
for a meal if unobserved. 

One night F. had fixed his fishing- wheels, and meant to 
sleep till the whirring, indicating a bite, should wake him. 
One or other of the men was to keep watch, but he trusted 
most to his own perceptions. After a time something — he 
never knew what — did wake him, though the wheels were 
still and the watcher snoring. Sitting up he made out a 
* mugger ' creeping towards him, just its own length away ; 
he turned it back into the water with a push, and shifted 
himself to another place. 

I never saw people lead an easier life than did the riverside 
dwellers of these parts. The men were always fishing or 
bartering their catches with other villages in exchange for 
various commodities ; the women and the children, who 
swarmed, had nothing to do, apparently, but eat, play, and 
look at us. 

Whether it be from the nature of the water I do not know, 
but the skin of these men, who spend nearly all their time in 
it — often up to their necks — is scaly-looking and iridescent, 
with very much the appearance of the film which gathers 
over an iron-impregnated pond ; that of the children is 
already faintly so, while the old men are quite mother-of- 
pearly brown. The women, being more or less clothed, 
are not so affected, but the rest, who are satisfied with six 
inches of rag for raiment, show a good deal of bare surface, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 97 

which looks very odd when lit up by the sunshine. They 
are dexterous in spearing fish, and also in shooting them 
with short arrows attached by a cord to a blow-pipe. These 
pipes are reeds, of a very hard surface, and are wonderfully 
carved and decorated ; they are seven or eight feet long 
and not more than an inch thick. 

Men, women, and children all get about the river on 
gourds, hollowed out and made water-tight. The gourds 
are of all sizes and of eccentric shapes ; convenient ones 
too, and there is no difficulty in mounting them : the rider 
sits astride, perfectly safe, and buoyed up in the strongest 
current. It was quite a sight to watch a large ring of these 
fisher-folk — some two or three dozen perhaps — bobbing 
about on their odd little saddles, holding up a great net in 
mid-stream, and making fine hauls, chanting melodiously 
the while. F. tried one of these gourds, and found that its 
use required no practice, as by no possibility can you go 
under if your gourd be trustworthy. That, of course, you 
must make sure of. 

The year we were at Serimungalem was the seventh, 
or seeding year, of the bamboo, when malaria, always 
present in these low-lying regions, is said to be more than 
usually rife, and especially virulent. The thirteenth day is 
the critical time after leaving a fever locality ; not invari- 
ably with all types, but it was so with the sort of fever 
and ague that we and those with us were alike subject to. 
Tide over that day and you might consider yourself safe 
for the nonce, though if none in the camp were down with 
it by then it would be such a wonder as never happened. 

One may become case-hardened to a certain extent, when 
it may take to affecting one in a fresh form ; but malarial 
fever is not a thing to be resisted by any effort of will — by 
' not giving in to it,' as people say so glibly of other people's 
ailments : it is stronger than the strongest, playing havoc 
with, and breaking down, the grandest constitution. From 

G 



98 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

the first day of exposure F. dosed his people with the great 
specific — quinine ; thus taken in time an attack might be 
mitigated, or even warded off. I treated myself in the same 
way, three grains being the usual quantity for a first dose. 
F. himself was past that ; quinine had no effect on him, 
except to make him deaf, with rushing noises in the ears — 
a condition called being ' cinchonised,' from the name 
cinchona (Peruvian bark), from which quinine is obtained. 
Strychnine and Fowler's Solution of arsenic were alone of 
any use to him, at best only shortening an attack. I have 
myself taken twenty and thirty grains of quinine a day, 
measured in our practised Indian fashion — a teaspoonful 
levelled off with the finger being twenty grains, near 
enough. That mixed in a little raw brandy would sometimes 
cut short the premonitory symptoms ; it was of no use 
if shivering had already set in. After I had had a good 
deal of malarial fever, it suddenly stopped, but only to 
change its outward character ; for sores came out on both 
my feet — simply another form of the malaria, we were told, 
and a very detestable one it was, laming me for six months. 
Then the old form returned, and I was downright grateful 
for it, so accustomed does one get to the fixed idea that 
one must have malaria somehow. 

It was on this trip that we had the good fortune to find 
a most rare thing, or perhaps I should say a thing rarely 
found — the Bamboo stone. Our people were splitting up 
bamboos for shingles with which to roof the huts, and 
called out delightedly at their discovery. This stone 
might be taken for an ordinary white pebble from the sea- 
shore till its history is known ; it is cloudy or milky-looking, 
the size of a damson. Although of no account in the way 
of money, it surely has a value and interest of its own, 
when one thinks of the long years it has taken to gather and 
crystallise, occurring only in very old bamboos. It is com- 
posed entirely of pure silica, that substance which gives 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 99 

the glossy, glassy hardness to the bamboo as to all giant 
grasses, rattans, canes, etc. I never saw this stone found 
but that once, and F. said that it was a rare occurrence in 
his experience also. 

As we travelled up the river on rafts, or rode along its 
banks to encamp farther on, some people of a most odd 
little tribe visited us, none of them standing much more 
than four feet high. They were basket-makers by occu- 
pation. They were used to F., as he inspected those parts 
yearly, but they never tired of staring at me, as I was a 
novelty to them then ; not admiringly, however — I was 
too big for a woman, they thought — peering round corners 
furtively and comically, with that mixture of shyness and 
inquisitiveness which is as characteristic of the wild man 
as of the wild animal ; not so very shy after all, but shy 
and inquisitive by turns. If I approached them — I was 
quite as much interested in them as they were in me — they 
made off, but kept peeping in and out at the camp work, 
volunteering small services such as chopping, fetching, 
carrying, etc., knowing full well that there were many things 
much to their fancy to be had in return — knives, for ex- 
ample, or perhaps even chewing-tobacco. I daresay they 
wished that F. came oftener ; indeed, they said so when we 
went away. 

This chewing-tobacco, so greatly prized by all, is prepared 
in long strings of some twenty inches. We never started 
on a trip without a great bale of it for the use of our people, 
including beaters, mahouts, and hangers-on generally, for 
whom work could always be found, each man's portion being 
several strings twice a day. 

Money the little people refused to take for their baskets. 
If offered it they held their baskets tighter, looking at each 
other and laughing, as if much entertained, herein showing 
their intelligence ; for they knew that we sold nothing, so 
that money would not get for them what they wanted of 



100 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

us, but they pressed on me some specimens of pretty white 
and red-stained work as gifts. It was easy to guess what 
would please them best in return : tobacco — and it did ! 
They were given several strings each, and walked off, enroll- 
ing themselves then and there among our people, though 
what work they did we hardly knew beyond lazily chopping 
wood or splitting a few bamboos. On the strength of 
such light labours, however, they marched up boldly with 
the rest, though careful always to keep at a distance from 
them, to receive the daily rations of, to them, unac- 
customed food, consisting of rice, curry stuff of sorts, and 
a measure of raggi x flour, which they knew how to prepare 
for eating by making it into cakes, and relished half -raw, 
half -singed in the smoke of a wood fire. When the precious 
tobacco was handed out each eyed the other's portion to 
see that no one had more or longer strings than himself. 
Our own people were not so particular, knowing that there 
was plenty more that would be dispensed without stint. 
F. paid attention to these things as to many others which, 
to such childish minds, were far from being trifles. Besides, 
it was well to keep these folk in a merry good-humour, for 
though they were not of much use they had horrid little 
ways of revenging themselves for any supposed slight or 
unfairness, such as disturbing the fishing-grounds or shoot- 
ing their arrows into the game coverts. As it was we got on 
well with them, treating them like the grown children they 
were, with impartial justice, too. This they evidently 
appreciated ; for when disputes arose the ruled against, 
equally with the ruled for, showed their approval by pulling 
and cracking every finger-joint. 

Their usual food was roots and tubers, dug up and eaten 
raw. Yams (sweet potatoes) they grew for themselves, 
eating them raw also ; but once they were given some by 

1 Raggi is a coarse flour only used by natives. It is made from a cereal 
and is pinkish in colour. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA ; ; ' \ }$£ 

our men that had been boiled and baked in hot ashes, and, 
relishing the novelty, soon learned the knack of doing the 
same. They fed on grubs, too, which I suppose would not 
stand cooking, industriously digging them out of the earth 
and cutting them out of decayed wood ; bee-grubs, too, 
when they had the luck to find a young comb ; but the 
great delicacy was a queen white ant in the grub stage, 
about the size of one's little finger, very unpleasant to our 
eyes, but just right to theirs. Seeing these creatures 
hunted for, found, and popped into the mouth with gusto 
was simply nauseating. The queens were rare, but the 
smaller grubs were gobbled up greedily too. These they 
collected on a leaf, sitting down to the feast as we might 
to enjoy cherries or other fruit after we had gathered it. 
One would not willingly watch such a repast, but one could 
not help seeing it. 

The dress of the little men was as simple and as easily 
come by as their food ; it consisted merely of a basket for 
the waist and loins, ingeniously fashioned in two pieces, 
and fitting their persons well. Of building construction, 
however, they seem to have little idea, living in natural 
holes and caves. 

A flat stone outside the boundary was the only market- 
place allowed by other communities to these little outcasts, 
whose touch is regarded as contamination. On it they 
must place their money or baskets in exchange for the salt, 
raggi, jaggheri, plantains, fish, axes, knives, or whatever it 
was they wanted. 

The women were the oddest little beings ever seen, and 
indeed, except for their human faces, were like nothing but 
animals, either in appearance or behaviour. What ideas 
they might have I could not discover — I wished I could. 
The first I saw of these tiny women was once when I was 
sitting in camp, and noticed some dark objects darting in 
and out from behind a rock some distance off, peeping over 



102 JBOUGHIfrG IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

it and ducking down again. They kept their faces hidden, so 
in order to get a better view I stood up ; but at my least 
movement they disappeared, and then hopped away, 
almost on all fours, as if to them that were quite the 
easiest mode of progression ; of course, they did it to make 
themselves as unnoticeable as possible — the true animal 
instinct. In very truth their lives were not far removed 
from those of monkeys. 

The sight made me hope that the re-incarnation theory 
might be true, as the only way — so at least it seems to some 
people — of reconciling conflicting ideas, conflicting, that is, 
to our limited comprehensions. Perhaps in this very theory 
lies the answer to the perpetual why and wherefore surging 
up in our minds at the sight of degraded existences, which 
after all may be so only in appearance, the reality being 
that they are passing through a transition stage. 

Discords, we are told, have their place in harmony. 
That things will be balanced one day most of us believe, 
but while some are content to leave it at that, others equally 
earnest are unable to do so. 

As a woman myself, the condition of these wives and 
mothers touched me the more. Alike in our womanhood, 
there was yet a world of difference between us — nay, aeons 
of development, I would rather think. As they are now, 
stunted mentally and physically, so was I ; as I am, so are 
they to be. Not that there is much to choose, in point 
of development, between these know-nothings and the 
degenerates of our own race, the last having something 
to unlearn. 

Some one has fancifully said of self-consciousness that 
it ' sleeps in the stone, dreams in the animal, and wakes in 
man.' These little people and their like in many a corner 
of the world are not to be pitied, rather are they to be 
envied ; not theirs the fever of competition, of baulked 
ambition, and of dashed hopes, which moves more civilised 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 103 

men so profoundly. Yet we should not wish to retrace the 

steps of progress ; the goal must be nearer for us, however 

distant still, that goal of which Tennyson speaks as 

' The one far-off, divine event 
To which the whole creation moves,' 

and from which some would exclude all animals — a large 
proportion of ' the whole ' — though Bishop Butler in his 
day, and Charles Kingsley more recently, would have them 
excluded from nothing when wrongs come to be righted, 
arguing that there cannot be two sorts of justice at 
one bar. 

But to return to my strange little friends. It was a 
great amusement taming these wild little women by offer- 
ing them things to eat — the first idea that occurs to one in 
coaxing an animal to make friends. It had to be something 
familiar, of course, cocoanut or jaggheri, or something else 
that they had tasted before. I don't doubt that a fine grub 
would have enticed them more quickly than anything, but 
that was beyond me. I felt it quite a triumph when, for the 
first time, they came round their coign of vantage — the 
rock — and advanced towards me, one behind another, in 
a string, each pushing her neighbour to the front that she 
should bear the brunt of the encounter. 

If I stirred the entire string dropped on all fours, not 
exactly as an animal does, but using their hands to get 
along with as much as their feet, and were gone ! Or if 
one of them did advance within reach of my proffered deli- 
cacy, I had to keep as still as if I were dealing with a shy 
beast or bird ; then a tiny, shapely brown hand snatched 
at it, and the bold owner was off to a safe distance in an 
instant, to begin nibbling with her brilliant teeth — very 
like a monkey, but an improvement on a monkey in that she 
broke off bits to give the rest. First one and then another be- 
haved in the same way, till presently others from afar came 
up cautiously, thinking it looked safe. The slightest thing 



104 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

was enough to scare them for the moment, when they took 
to their hands and feet immediately, though it became 
only make-believe as their timidity wore off. Soon familiar 
and inquisitive were not the words to describe their be- 
haviour ! They attended me in troops, never tired of 
touching my clothes, and especially my shoes, which at 
first they thought grew on me. This is no exaggeration : 
they defied me (I was told) to remove them ! I did so, 
to amuse myself by watching their faces the while. 

In the end, having proved myself to be harmless, I was 
delighted to see them go away, to bring back their babies 
to show me — fat, brown balls, quite as big as other babies, 
which was somewhat surprising considering the diminutive 
size of their parents, none of their mothers being even four 
feet high. 

In health there could not be a merrier or more happy- 
tempered set of little people than this, but if the scourge 
of smallpox appeared amongst them, the lot of the one 
attacked was appalling indeed. Such a one was con- 
veyed into the jungle — the very heart of it — some sort of 
thatch shelter was built up about him, and there he was 
left with a supply of food and drink. After that, far from 
being waited on, or even inquired after, or the supply of 
food replenished, his very neighbourhood was shunned. 
A large pot of water and coarse bread for a fortnight was 
— so I was told — considered all that was needful. At the 
end of that time the sick person must be either dead or 
better ; if better he could walk back to his family. Thus 
they would argue, if, indeed, they did anything but follow 
immemorial custom. That some did survive this regimen 
their scarred faces testified. 

It is also their habit to carry the very old and feeble folk 
away to some distant, solitary spot, where they are ex- 
pected to die, and leave them with a merely complimentary 
supply of sustenance. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 105 

Passing over these and a few other drawbacks in their 
ways, I should be well pleased to find myself in their neigh- 
bourhood once more. 

As far as I am aware, none of these pigmies of Southern 
India have ever been brought away from their own country 
to this, to be exhibited as shows to the curious, and I should 
be very sorry to think of such a fate befalling them. 



106 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER X 

Home by canal — Maidenhair fern — Canal women and crocodiles — Bath- 
ing mats — Pishashas — A ' cat-eyed ' peon — Chowry, the gardener's 
child — Ways of detecting crime — Chowry' s hair — The tattooing of 
Chinniah. 

Our business on this tour being completed, we were to go 
home to Calicut, by water still ; but instead of our journey 
being along a lovely, romantic river it was to be by a canal, 
which when nearing Calicut merged into the backwater. 
Though sounding more prosaic beforehand, it proved quite 
as charming as the other. 

We were poled along in a roomy house-boat with a 
movable tilt : nothing pleasanter could have been devised. 
The servants had their house-boat too, the cook manipulat- 
ing his stove very cleverly aboard, though always under 
protest ; for he said that everything tasted the same — of 
kerosene — liking it best when a halt was called, so that 
he could land and do himself justice with an impromptu 
stove-range. 

Fish innumerable were caught, and wild duck also were 
plentiful, tasting very like fish themselves. 

Sometimes we glided between perpendicular banks thirty 
feet high, each an unbroken sheet of maidenhair fern ; 
not the kind with very minutely divided fronds, but the true 
maidenhair with delicate brown stems and tremulous 
leafage. The boatmen were made to stop that whole 
squares might be cut out for removal to our own home, 
and more was brought to us later. There were no flowers 
on these cliffs, but a few other sorts of fern interspersed with 
the maidenhair. The climate — steamy hot — suited them 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 107 

exactly, and is the atmosphere aimed at in a conservatory 
for tropical plants. For miles it was the same, alternating 
with stretches of level country, either wooded, or with fields 
of waving paddy (rice), for all the world like soft green 
plush. 

One day as we were passing such a flat bit, where the 
banks were muddy and trampled-looking, I happened to 
dangle my fingers over the boat's side ; whereupon the men 
made signs to me to take them in, telling F., who interpreted 
to me, that the crocodiles would suppose them to be fish. 
A creepy idea that, its being taken for granted that there 
were crocodiles alongside on the lookout for food ; so I kept 
my fingers strictly to myself afterwards, and got F. to ask 
if the crocodiles were likely to climb into the boat after 
them. The reply was, ' No, that would be prevented,' 
which was meant reassuringly ; but it scared me the 
rather, as I had not put the question seriously in fear of an 
attempt. Yet on a previous occasion, when we were on a 
raft, an extra voracious, or especially daring crocodile did 
follow, and actually begin to board, us. At this the man 
poling thrust his bamboo into the open jaws and pushed it 
as far down as he could, thus effectually checkmating the 
intruder. I expected to see the water reddened with its 
blood and then to have it killed outright. No such thing ! 
It merely took itself off, clambered up the bank, and started 
eating some fish bones, as if nothing had happened. 

Hereabouts, half-hidden amongst gardens shady with 
toddy and cocoanut palms, plantains, and other trees, 
houses clustered, despite the crocodile drawback. That 
it was considered none became more and more evident as 
we proceeded, for at one point in our voyage where a huge 
crocodile lay basking, half-asleep, in the sun, two women 
sat composedly drying their long hair but a yard or two 
away from it. They called out for those higher up on the 
bank to come down and look at us, and out they all flocked, 



108 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

old and young. One woman — a pretty, laughing creature, 
no darker than a European brunette — had her baby on 
her hip ; putting it down to sprawl in the mud she picked 
up a piece of fish and held it out carelessly, without looking 
in the direction of the crocodile, which did not so much as 
turn its head, so overfed must it have been. At some 
wondering questions of ours she said that this one was 
generally there ; she thought it guarded her child, who 
liked it ! 

1 Were children never taken then ? ' ' Yes, sometimes, 
and kids and buffalo calves too.' 

I wanted to ask why they lived in such an unspeakable 
place, but the question did not seem worth putting — it 
answered itself. They lived here because it was their home, 
and they had always lived here. According to them they 
had no choice ; the boatmen, who also lived beside the 
canal, plying up and down it, said the same. The pretty 
young woman quite understood my thought as I pointed 
away to the safer, distant fields, then to the child and its 
1 guardian ' (?) ; but she only shook her head — such a trim, 
neat head, shining with cocoanut oil, the hair piled high, 
and kept together by a single long silver pin — so did the 
others standing round, all comely-looking, except a few old 
crones, perfect witches for ugliness ; smiling, too, in quite a 
superior way at my most silly questionings. They were 
all of a mind — that was plain — in seeing no reason whatever 
for leaving the place : ' their people before them had built 
the houses and planted the gardens — they must have been 
right in choosing the spot ; their men folk were all engaged 
in the canal traffic, ' and so on. 

I shook my head too ; for me that crocodile and its fellows 
were the answer to every argument. I could not but think 
how easily their houses might be put farther back, how 
safely they might then live — and said so ; but no, to them 
everything was in favour of this position. Their final reason 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 109 

was given in the form of a question. ' As their children 
all played more in the water than on land, what were 
they to do with them anywhere else ? ' I could only stare 
in amazement at such notions and such mothers, telling 
them that though we had no loose crocodiles in England, 
children were brought up successfully even away from 
water to play in. Yet that there was no lack of love and 
pride in these women was plain to see as they crowded round 
our boat, which had been grounded, holding out their chil- 
dren, and putting them into it without the least shyness ; 
and all the while, as they pushed past, that crocodile was 
lying there, as still as the Sphinx. It was simply a lifelong, 
inherited familiarity with the conditions of their lives that 
caused them to ignore what to us seemed a danger. As to 
any risk of being drowned, ' How could any one be drowned 
where there was no current ? Everybody there could 
swim ; the babies learned to swim just as they learned to 
crawl ; they were tied to a bough in case they should go 
too far, that was all, and would not drown any more than 
the young frogs in the rushes ' — I give as near a translation 
of her words as possible. 

Everybody bathed, too, disporting themselves in the 
cooling water at all leisure times ; and the way the women 
contrived to do so in public, yet in perfect privacy, was 
most ingenious because so very simple. No stranger would 
have guessed that there were any women there, all that 
met the eye being large cane mats, some six feet square, 
bobbing about of their own accord — in no way remarkable. 
Under these they bathed unseen, a narrow band in the 
centre holding one firmly on to the head of each, in the 
same way as the hats earlier mentioned. The merest 
glimpses were to be caught of quick, formless movements in 
the dark, almost black, shadows immediately beneath, in 
which they danced and sported, the brown limbs merging 
and mingling with the swirling water in a way you would 



110 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

hardly believe possible, but so it was. Not for the world 
would these women bathe thus in public unless they knew 
themselves to be perfectly hidden, each under her mat, 
for they are as shy as mice. There was quite a flotilla of 
them, interesting me much when I knew them to be some- 
thing more than floating mats. And never a one troubled 
about crocodiles either — a state of things altogether we 
should hardly have believed to exist unless we had seen it. 

India was new to me then, to my grown days at least, 
and many scenes passed before my wondering eyes, some 
of surpassing interest and beauty, others of a hideousness 
often coarse or grotesque. All my experiences in those 
unfrequented places were such as had never entered my 
imagination before. 

The women of Poolpadi, and other places on the canal- 
side, so regardless of the peril at their doors, and going 
freely about between their villages* for business or pleasure, 
are equally fearless when taking longer journeys — either 
singly or in twos and threes — through a bit of gloomy 
forest or tangled thicket — afraid of nothing except the 
dreaded pishashas (devils) that they believe to be every- 
where about them, and that must be propitiated with all 
sorts of things laid here and there in crevices, sacred stones, 
and hollow trees. The fear of these pishashas holds sway 
all over India. I once, just to try him, asked a servant of 
ours to get for me a bunch of plantains, placed, as I knew, 
for this very purpose, offering him treble its value in annas 
(about fourpence). With deep salaams he begged pardon 
for disobeying my command, and I held out quite a large 
bribe in vain. No bribe has any effect in a question of 
religion, even among the very poorest. Though our Hindu 
or Mussulman servants and these country people were of 
varying beliefs, all were one in their respect for the rights of 
the pishashas, who could revenge themselves on every one 
infringing them, in ways that each would best feel — blighting 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 111 

the paddy crops of one, killing the cattle and goats of 
another, or even sending a grey-eyed firstborn child ! 

This last calamity is considered very awful, grey eyes 
being ' cats' eyes ' ; to be called ' cat-eyed ' through life 
would be a curse no one could stand up against. The 
prejudice is universal in India. 

Only once did I ever see a pure-bred native with grey 
eyes ; to do so is the rarest thing in the world, though 
amongst Eurasians they are common, and sometimes very 
beautiful in their type of face. He was a peon of ours, and 
was detected in horrible torturing of an old tribesman, one 
of the jungle people who are so helpless in the hands of some 
belted wretch armed with a little ' brief authority/ unless 
they can make their voices heard. 1 The old man had been 
hung up by a cord round his crossed wrists : the peon came 
up to the verandah, pulling him along, more or less gently, 
as I could see from where I was sitting, and in F.'s absence 
began relating his version of the story to me that I might 
interest myself — a thing I never did, in the sense of inter- 
fering — on his, the peon's, behalf, telling me of his vigilance 
in the prosecution of his duty and of the dangers he had run 
in capturing this formidable rogue, and so on. 

One glance at the trembling old man and then at the 
peon with those grey and feline eyes, for such they truly 
looked in his dark face, was enough to turn any one against 
the latter, whatever there might be to be said on his side. 
On the other side nothing was needed to enlist my sympathies 
but the sight of the victim. Holding up his wrists, cut to 
the bone by the cruel cord and the weight, slight as it was, 
of his wizened little frame, the poor old man mumbled 
something which was interpreted to mean that he did not 
know who the thief was in a certain case in his village (of 
which he was the head-man), and that he had been tortured 

1 I am Bpeaking here only of peons who abused their power ; as a body 
they are fine fellows, 



112 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

to make him give a name which he could not give. The 
peon's story was the same, and it was likely enough, only 
that according to him he was not guilty of the torture ; it 
must have been his substitute or predecessor. ' How long 
ago was that ? ' I asked, for the old man's wounds were 
evidently recent. My mind was quite made up, and I 
promised that justice should be done. The peon under- 
stood as, with cringing salaams, he backed himself off. 

The old man was taken away to be supplied with food 
and something soothing for his aged, injured body, both 
of which he so much needed ; then he slept in peace, know- 
ing that all would be well as soon as he could get speech 
with the Doray. The fact that all had access to him was 
the very simple secret why my husband was reverenced 
and feared by those under his jurisdiction ; the tales of all 
were listened to with attention that their truth or false- 
hood might be sifted out, and rights were respected instead 
of the poorest or the weakest being crushed, as must often 
happen when there are no means to pay go-betweens, in the 
form of interpreters, if these are required. 

In this instance the peon was then and there dismissed 
the Government service for his illegal attempt to extort 
confession by torture. His face convinced me of his guilt, 
I know, and it was the grey eyes that did it. I should not 
have believed a word that peon had said even without the 
mute witness of those wounded wrists. Every proven case 
of cruelty ended in a similar way, and the perpetrator was 
given but short shrift. F. being paramount in his district 
in these matters, there was no appeal from his sentences. 

Another quickly arranged form of persuasion often re- 
sorted to was the twisting of oiled rags round a man's, 
or even a woman's or a child's, fingers, and setting them 
alight in order to extort a name, perhaps a suggested one, 
according to what was wanted. The agonised creature 
mostly shrieked anything, everything, or if of different 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 113 

metal, as some were, he might burn to the bone. That was 
common enough, and happened within our own knowledge, 
when a police constable was the brutal instigator, and his 
dismissal followed sharp on the heels of detection, though 
F. had no direct jurisdiction here. 

The same sort of thing may sometimes be going on under 
your very nose. 

A little girl, the child of one of our makes (gardeners), was 
accused of stealing a bangle of mine. Part of her work 
was to change the plants and flowers in the rooms, taking 
away pots of fern and bringing in others, as arranged by 
her father. I had been writing on the verandah, and the 
heat being too great for me to stand even the weight of a 
bangle unnecessarily, I slipped it off my wrist and left it 
on the blotting-book for a moment while I went indoors. 
On returning very soon after I missed it directly, and asked 
the servants, who were always in attendance, if they had 
seen it. Of course, no one had seen it. No one but Chowry, 
the gardener's child, had anything to do there just then, 
they said, though that she had not been anywhere near 
during my absence I was quite sure. Saying that I would 
go away for half an hour, and should expect to find the 
bangle put back where I had left it by the end of that time, 
in which case no further questions would be asked, I went 
indoors again ; but the plan, though carried out, produced 
no result. 

When F. heard about it he said that whoever had taken 
the bangle would be the busiest in finding the thief ; and 
so it turned out. 

The next morning I missed the mdlee's child. ' Oh ! she 
was only with her mother/ The next day it was again the 
same story, but on the third day I saw her, far away, stand- 
ing by her father ; she had her cloth round her head and 
ears, covering her hands, too, which seemed to be them- 
selves wrapped up. This was not her habit, and as these 

H 



114 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

people do the same thing, even to the arranging of their 
cloths, in exactly the same way every day, I determined 
to find out the reason for these changes, and called her. 
Having by that time learnt something of native practices, 
her continued absence had set me thinking : I had also 
noticed that the girl's father turned his face away, and 
looked oddly moved, when I asked for her. She came up 
to me, being obliged to do so, but with reluctance. I just 
said, ' Put your cloth back, Chowry ' ; this that I might see 
her hands, for one thing, though she still tried to keep them 
covered. When the wrappings were removed I found the 
delicate finger-tips swollen to bursting, needles and splinters 
having been forced under the nails ! Her ears, too, were a 
shocking sight, swollen, shapeless, festered ; indeed, they 
were nearly torn off her head, so frightfully had she been 
mutilated. All this to make her confess to the theft ! 
That patient child never cried once before me, though her 
sufferings must have been sickening, and she was only ten 
years old ! 

By degrees the story was dragged out : the butler had 
had this done to her. She, being in and out of the rooms 
freely, was the very peg on which to hang his trick. Then 
F. came up — not by chance — and to him Chowry repeated 
her tale. He himself called the butler, and the other ser- 
vants were summoned, except those having no indoor work ; 
they were all men, the ayah, Logan-harri, being absent on 
a day's leave. 

When they were all assembled F. ordered them to do what 
is regarded by these people as an act of gross disrespect, 
namely, to take off and unwind their turbans before a 
master or mistress. The look of set purpose on his face 
told me that this was no guesswork. His order was obeyed 
instantly and simply by each man, whatever his thoughts 
may have been ; by all but one, that is. The butler alone 
demurred ; he ' could not be seen without his turban,' and 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 115 

so forth ; but it was all up with him now, and he had to 
comply ; no sleight of hand could avail him — and — out 
rolled my bangle ! 

It was explained to me later that a very few minutes 
before this, when passing round the back of the house, 
F. had seen the butler, while rearranging his turban, push 
something well in between the folds. He knew that the 
man would not keep his own valuables there, and the 
thought of my bangle occurred to him with such insistence 
that he was coming to talk the matter over with me and 
fix on a plan ; then seeing Chowry with me, her wrappings 
off, and the reason for them evident, everything instantly 
shook itself into place in his mind, and he acted, with the 
result I have described. 

The man's conviction, of course, ruined his career as a 
butler among the English households of the neighbourhood, 
and we should not have been so hard on him for the mere 
theft itself ; it was the cold, cruel-hearted ill-usage of that 
child that fired us to extremes. 

Chowry was cared for, and all that was possible done to 
promote her cure. She was promised gold sprigs to stick 
in all round the edges of her ears, when they should heal, 
instead of the little rolls of paper or stained reeds she had 
worn, also a ring or two for her fingers. 

But, after all, what were the few isolated cases thus 
detected and punished compared with all that went on 
unchecked, not even interfered with, albeit well known ? 
These practices were too far-reaching and universal for 
individual effort to be of much use ; many well authenti- 
cated instances could be given of hideous wrong done to 
the innocent and helpless, but there is no need to dwell on 
such horrors. 

Such a deed once perpetrated almost under one's very 
roof-tree — as in Chowry's case — one can hardly get it out 
of one's head again for fear of what may still be going on 



116 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

below the surface. These people don't tell of each other 
lest worse befall them in revenge. There had never been 
any intention on the part of that make or his girl of letting 
us know about the awful coercion to which she had been 
subjected — it all came out accidentally. 

I have been told that in days gone by, before my time, 
natives were very simple — they are not so now — and they 
used to be given chits (tiny scribbles) to carry from one 
sahib to another containing requests or orders to thrash the 
bearer ! In those unsuspecting days, also, the ordeal by 
rice was resorted to for the detection of a thief in any 
one's household. All were assembled, and each man made 
to take some raw rice in his mouth ; the innocent munched 
away, but the guilty one could not do so ; his mouth was 
too dry and parched in feverish terror for him to be able to 
masticate the hard grains — clear proof of guilt ! This was 
certainly not a bad plan if you had a pretty shrewd idea 
as to the culprit, who, be sure, was watching you, and 
knew, if the rest didn't, that you knew him for the thief. 

Another plan — and this F. sometimes adopted — useful 
when suspicion amounts to certainty, for otherwise it is 
apt to end in a fiasco, consists in using a small galvanic 
battery, so arranged that the suspect shall get a slight but 
startling shock on plunging his eager hand into a bowl of 
water with shining eight-anna bits at the bottom ; every 
one but he can pick up a prize — self -convicted again. For 
justice this method of detecting guilt is about on a par 
with our ancient Saxon ordeals by fire, water, etc., unless 
one already knows the culprit, as F. made sure of doing. 

Chowry, the gardener's child, the victim in the bangle- 
theft story, was in most respects an ugly little sprite, but 
she possessed one element of beauty in her long, thick hair. 
This hair her father once vowed as a sacrifice at his special 
shrine should his wife recover from an illness which had 
laid her low ; she did recover, and her husband duly offered 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 117 

up the beautiful hair — a sacrifice on his part as well as the 
child's — not a particle did he spare. 

On this occasion, again, Chowry resorted to the vain 
expedient of muffling herself up as much as possible ; but 
anything unusual aroused my suspicions, and I soon knew 
why she did it. She did cry this time in bitter shame and 
distress over her shaved head, and nobody could help her 
here. Wonderfully soon, however, the bare head was re- 
clothed and adorned with a freakish crop of silky curls, 
whereas the vowed hair had been straight ! Its speedy 
growth was due to liberal anointings with cocoanut oil — 
a splendid thing for the hair — and Chowry was fully recom- 
pensed. She said, as I was admiring the curls, ' And I Ve 
got my mother too ! ' quite believing that her mother had 
been bought off by the gift of her hair, and thinking that 
now to ha^e curls growing instead was altogether a good 
bargain. 

Another girl belonging to our household once begged for 
a week's leave — or it might be ten days — as she was going 
to have a fever. I naturally asked her how she could know 
that beforehand. She replied that her hands and arms were 
to be tattooed that day if leave were given, and that the 
consequent inflammation would certainly cause fever. The 
desired leave to get well in being granted, the girl beamed 
with delight. The operation was to be performed in the 
house, dependent on my ' gracious favour ' ; and at the 
appointed time the tattooing man punctually arrived with 
his box of instruments. Any time would not have done, 
the hour had been exactly calculated, in fact, foretold, at 
her birth — for Chinniah's horoscope was consulted — and 
now all was in readiness. 

Hanging back, and looking far from happy, the girl came 
up into the verandah, several other women with her, one 
being our old fowl woman, a powerfully built person, on 
whose arms were wonderful examples of tattooed embroidery. 



118 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Chinniah sat down on the verandah floor, and the artist 
began his work. The reason for the presence of these 
friends soon became evident : they were there to hold her 
fast and prevent her from running away, as she well knew 
she would do if not prevented. It was only the usual 
precaution, the process being painful and lasting some 
hours, according to the design, and also, as I began to think, 
to the strength and endurance of the parties. 

As had been expected, Chinniah writhed and struggled 
to get away ; but her hand was held as in a steel vice by the 
unmoved, horn-bespectacled old gentleman, who took no 
notice whatever of her shrieks at every stab of his needles : 
the women also were her true friends, and knew their busi- 
ness. Her face was distorted with crying, her chest was 
heaving, her whole aspect was that of a person being tortured 
nigh to death. So horrified was I at the spectacle that I 
begged, nay, ordered, them to let her go, but at that she 
only shrieked the louder, ' Hie, ille, Missus, please ' (' No, 
no, missus, please '). On no account were they to loosen 
their hold of her. 

To me the affair was almost as comical as it was horrifying, 
but to no one else present ; they were all in grim earnest. 

At last the girl became perfectly passive, only sobbing 
heavily ; but those practised hands never relaxed their grip 
till the old man had finished — for a time, that is, as all could 
not be done at one sitting. Some lotion was poured over 
the punctured limbs, and after an interval for rest all began 
over again. It was wonderful to see Chinniah — her eyes 
flowing over with her present pain and the thought of more 
to come — offer her arm to the torturer and settle down once 
more, in the firm grasp of her friends, to undergo renewed 
agonies. 

The pattern chosen was a fine, intricate lattice or net- 
work, which was to cover the backs of her hands, extending 
over the fingers and round the arms as far as the elbows, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 119 

so it was a long job. When all was at length over, Chinniah's 
tears dried, and the arms bathed and bandaged, so eaten 
up was she with vanity that she had to be threatened with 
having them tied together to keep her from exposing them 
to the heat and the bites of insects — perhaps to the spoiling 
of their beauteous effect in the future ; and this argument 
prevailed. 

The bandaging had to be attended to daily. Unsightly 
as those arms looked at first, they must have felt worse ; 
but Pride, if it does feel pain, can yet bear any amount of 
it. I never saw such a struggle between resolute vanity 
and physical weakness ; the power of the mind over the 
body could not have been more aptly illustrated ; for there 
was no obligation on the girl to undergo this torture beyond 
her own desire to be at least equal to other women in her 
outward adornments — a sufficiently urgent one with her 
sex as long as the world lasts. 



120 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER XI 

Difficulties of travel — Travellers' Bungalow at Sultan's Battery — Broken- 
down bridges — A banquet under difficulties — Story of a premonition 
— Difficulties as to supplies — Substitute for coffee — Smallpox — The 
dhoby's ways — Indian thieves. 

* The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley.' 
This holds good in most mundane affairs, as we found out 
from time to time, much to our discomfiture. 

If I have not hitherto touched on the difficulties of our 
tours it is not because we never met with anything of the 
kind, or that no hitch ever occurred in our plans. To tell 
the truth, they were many and frequent : predicaments 
arose for which no provision had been, or could have been, 
made ; but a way out was generally found, and they were 
put up with, more or less cheerfully, by all. 

When a tour was in prospect our people, being just 
given the headlines, as it were, of the expedition afoot, 
were left to fill in details of arrangements themselves, and 
were held responsible for deciding what quantities of food 
supplies for all purposes must be taken from home, as well 
as for ascertaining what other necessaries could be procured 
by the way and where they would be obtainable. Our 
servants, therefore, were always chosen with an eye to their 
capabilities for such duties. 

Written ' characters ' are more reliable documents in 
India than sometimes in England ; bogus ones can be bought, 
but it is not safe for servants to depend on them. If one 
requiring an applicant's services does not personally know 
his late master he probably knows some one who does, so 
servants once engaged can generally be trusted. Having 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 121 

once told our people where we were going, for how long a 
time, and what our probable halts would be, F. could 
depend on everything that was possible being done to ensure 
our comfort. 

At the same time, things did not go quite like clock- 
work. For instance, baggage-carts, dogs, etc., might all 
have set out days ahead, travelling by night if too hot by 
day, and taking the best roads available — the best were 
often bad ; while we ourselves started later, riding, buoyed 
up by the strongly qualified hope that we should not reach 
our destination first, after all, to find that our arrival had 
been unheralded by peons, and nothing, instead of all, 
being in readiness. But with bad weather and worse roads 
the chances were accepted as even. 

It was with no shock of surprise, therefore, that on reach- 
ing the Travellers' Bungalow at Sultan's Battery, 1 at the 
end of a long ride, one wild monsoon day, we heard that 
until the bridges were mended no carts could cross. There 
were three of these bridges, the nearest being three, and 
farthest, nine miles off ; one was burnt, we were told, one 
broken, and some budmash (rogue) had chopped down the 
third. The state of the bridges had been certified to F. 
quite recently, but, as it seemed, not recently enough. 

Travellers' Bungalows are maintained by the Government 
for the use of travellers, and consist of several rooms fur- 
nished with tables, chairs, cots, etc., the floors being of 
beaten earth. Originally intended for Europeans, the richer 
class natives do, however, make use of them, and their 
recent presence is unmistakably evident in the betel-nut 
spit on the walls and floors and the peculiar odour of spices 
— in cleanliness some of them could not be excelled — left 
behind them. We found it so this time, as we were not 

1 It was at this place that a treaty of peace was signed by Tippoo Sahib 
in 1784. It is full of old ruined fortifications, and cannon-balls have been 
found here. 



122 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

expected ; had we been announced all traces of the last 
occupants would have been hidden under a coat of white- 
wash on the walls, and the floors would have been freshly 
' leeped,' that is, bespread with cow-dung. This may sound 
disgusting, but is in reality a most cleanly plan, for the 
surface dries and hardens quickly. A newly-leeped floor 
also keeps off mosquitoes. Of course, the room would not 
be occupied while the leeping was still moist. It is the cus- 
tom to treat floors thus in native houses, also in the kitchens 
and ' go-downs ' (servants' quarters) connected with the 
houses of Europeans. These quarters, I may here mention, 
are quite detached, in order that the heat from the kitchen 
fires may not be felt in the houses, nor the smell of cooking 
be perceptible — a plan which might with advantage be 
adopted in many a cramped English household if it were 
possible to arrange it. 

The fact that the traces alluded to were not yet removed 
showed that the travellers had but just left, so we could 
only hope that their expectations of finding the bridges 
beyond in order were well grounded, or they might, perforce, 
return, which would have been inconvenient for all parties 
alike. 

One can be very comfortable in these bungalows if one 
has all one's necessaries with one, which unfortunately we 
hadn't, nor any immediate prospect of their arriving. The 
horses were better off, for they were stabled and promised 
a warm feed — no difficulty about that, as every village 
affords gram, a sort of grainstuff bullocks eat when they 
are lucky enough to get anything but what they pick up. 
As to our stranded carts, we knew that they were packed 
with food for men and animals, so that we were not disturbed 
about those with them, as every one was used to this sort 
of thing, and they would be looked up in the morning. 

The old man in charge of the bungalow asked us what we 
should like for dinner, adding that he had only chickens ; 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 123 

the difficulty was to catch them ; he was too old to run 
himself ; as soon as it was dark they would roost, then they 
could be caught easily. We left it to him to solve the 
problem in his own way, and set to work drying our clothes, 
bit by bit, as we could spare them. A very cold process 
we found it, having come up from the hot, steamy low 
country, travelling upwards on the Western Ghats (hill- 
ranges) till we had here reached an elevation of some three 
thousand feet above sea-level, and we naturally felt the 
difference. Charcoal, glowing red in low three-legged 
braziers of clay, had been brought in to warm the rooms, 
and over the braziers frames like enormous hen-coops were 
set, upon which we spread our clothes — a device not to be 
equalled for thoroughness and safety. 

Meanwhile the old man busied himself with preparing 
our dinner, finally smartening himself up in his gold-laced 
turban and belt and badge of office before serving it. We 
guessed beforehand that we should do wisely to trust all 
to him, though we did not expect great things. The result 
proved we were right, for this was the menu : — 

Moorghi (fowl) in four distinct shapes and tastes. 

Soup, strong and good. 

Rissoles, with mashed sweet potatoes. 

Ditto, boiled, with egg sauce and baked sweet potatoes, 
and some native cucumber-like green vegetable. 

Two curries ; one a perfectly delicious dry variety, 
known as ' country-captain,' and the other of hard-boiled 

eggs. 

Nor was any customary accompaniment missing. There 
were ' Bombay ducks/ a sort of crisply baked salt-fish for 
crumbling over the curries ; and poppodums, a wafer-like 
biscuit, also for crumbling over ; and green mint chutney ! 

Then appeared anchovy toast, all piping hot. 

Yet the old man was single-handed, unless, perhaps, 
sundry scuffiings in the back verandah while we were being 



124 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

served in dignified fashion within indicated an impromptu 
assistant. 

Plantain fritters and good coffee rounded off a banquet 
which could hardly have been bettered at home. 

' Plenty salaams to the Mem-Sahib, but I have no tea,' 
said the old man, knowing our English ways. I told him 
how much better I liked coffee (a fib which, I trust, was 
blotted out then and there), and I asked for another cup. 

They are all wizards, these cooks, at making something 
good out of nothing (from our point of view), but here was 
a born chef. Nor was he wasted in his solitude, for the 
visitors' book showed how many years he had served here 
and the reputation he had built up for himself, his Govern- 
ment ' pinchon ' being now within sight. 

F. had his brandy flask with him, and much delighted 
the old fellow by complimenting him on his skill and offering 
him a glass this wet, cold night. His eyes twinkled for 
answer as he went off quite youthfully to fetch a half cocoa- 
nut shell that served him for a glass, which when filled 
was received with deep salaams in a hand fairly trembling 
with the pride and pleasure aroused by the appreciative 
words. 

At cock-crow the next morning carpenters were despatched 
to the place where the carts had been stranded, and when 
F. rode out himself he found them being lightened, the 
more easily to pull them over the temporarily repaired 
bridge, reloading them on the far side, the best thing to be 
done under the circumstances, though a long job, with three 
of these bridges to be thus manoeuvred ! 

When, for the first and only time in my life, a premonition 
of danger came to me, it had to do with a broken bridge. 

On long journeys we occasionally used a travelling coach 
holding a mattress and other bedding. One night — a very 
dark one, moonless and starless — I was fast asleep in the 
coach ; F. was riding near it at a walk, and the string of 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 125 

baggage-carts was crawling along behind. The route, with 
its roads and bridges, had been reported safe ; it was an 
entirely new one to us both. 

Suddenly I awoke with a strong sense of something un- 
toward impending ; then, that same instant, knew two 
things, namely, that we were approaching a bridge and 
that some of its planks were broken ! 

Very urgently I pulled the check-string and made the 
driver stop, telling him why. Not a question did the man 
ask as to how the Dursani could know ; he only held his 
bullocks in tightly. F. now rode up to see what was the 
matter, and as I told him he too listened without argument, 
then dismounted, unhitched a bull's-eye lantern, and walked 
forward with it, throwing its light full upon the bridge, 
which he found exactly as I had described : several planks 
on the right-hand side were broken in at a junction, and 
looking close down he saw blood not yet dry, and white 
hairs sticking to the splintered ends, affording plain proof 
that the leg of a bullock had crashed through, to its grievous 
hurt, not long since. 

By keeping to the extreme left-hand edge of the bridge 
it was found possible to get the carts over ; a false step by 
lantern light on the bad side — although the break was not 
a wide one — could not be risked, nor that indefinable power 
that lurks in ' suggestion ' ignored, though some people 
think fit to ignore such power. «, 

But for my receiving that premonition one of our ponder- 
ous bullocks must inevitably have put his leg into the hole, 
which lay just in the natural line for one animal of a pair 
to take. 

F. refrained from asking me the futile question, How 
did I know ? taking it for granted that I should have 
told him if I could. The reason the warning came to us 
rather than to those preceding us must have been that it 
was meant to especially safeguard some one of our number. 



126 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

The spiritual world is close around us, not in a far-away 
region ; it is only owing to the dulness of our present senses 
that we do not perceive its sights and sounds, says Canon 
MacColl, though I am not quoting him literally ; * perhaps 
it is due to the guiding of some denizen of that world when 
mishaps are avoided by means of presentiments or pre- 
monitions. We do not know. 

The certainty I had felt as to the state of the bridge was 
so definite that it did not occur to me to doubt the warning, 
any more than if some one, going on ahead, had come back 
with the intelligence that it was not safe. Below the bridge 
flowed a river, not deep now, but its bed packed with 
boulders likely to break up whatever might fall through 
upon them. We never learned anything as to the fate 
of the injured animal that had left such painful traces. 
Most likely, after being extricated, it was made to go on 
somehow. To prevent a recurrence of such accidents F. 
had the bridge securely roped across at both ends to give 
warning of danger ; and passing carts could get by as we 
did. 

Variety is charming : even our difficulties showed that 
quality. Something totally unexpected would happen, and 
soon after, perhaps, something equally awkward in an 
exactly contrary way. One day no coolies would be forth- 
coming, the next two gangs would arrive, marshalled by 
separate peons, and on meeting would seize on the loads 
and fall to blows, or rather the show of them, while we were 
waiting anxiously up above for the tappdl (post) that was 
also to be brought by them. 

As to the stores, they were not supposed to be allowed 
to get low before being replenished, but to be kept up to an 
average quantity in a methodical manner. Now and then, 
however, practice lagged behind theory, and our demands 

1 The Reformation Settlement, by the Rev. Malcolm MacColl, D.D., Canon 
of Ripon, p. 177. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 127 

were met with ' plenty salaams/ but such and such an article 
was ' done finish/ 

It was coffee that was ' done finish ' on one occasion. 
That did not matter much to us — or ought not to have 
mattered, though it seems to me now that we were some- 
times unreasonable — but to a native his ' kafi ' is indispen- 
sable. After trying to make my ayah content herself with 
our tea, I found her drinking something that smelt fragrant 
and coffee-like, though that she had no coffee I knew. 
She offered me some of her decoction, but, though quite 
liking it, I could make no guess at all as to its origin, even 
on seeing the powder of which it was made, and she had to 
tell me that it was ground-nuts prepared like coffee berries, 
and I am bound to say it made a rare good substitute. 
Brunak, a modern health beverage made of roasted wheat, 
was not yet known, but is so like my ayah's ground-nut 
coffee that I should not know the difference. 

Though it was a new idea to me that ground-nuts could 
be used as coffee, I was so fond of them, browned and 
sprinkled with salt, as to say one day that a coolie-load of 
them must be brought up, a greedy remark which I forgot 
as soon as uttered ; but it was taken as an order, and the 
very next tappdl, when a number of necessaries were ex- 
pected, two men only arrived carrying thirty pounds of 
nuts apiece ! That was only half a load each, but the nuts 
weighed so light that they took up a vast amount of space 
to be balanced on a man's head. The peon in charge begged 
to be excused for delay, as he had had to go far to collect 
the required quantity, no one village affording more than a 
few seers. 1 Neither had he been able to get more coolies then . 

F. asked the man whose order it was, having quite for- 
gotten what I had said ; knowing, moreover, that a bagful 
would have met my utmost desires. It was the Mem-Sahib's 
1 hookum,' was the reply — then we remembered. 

1 A seer is a varying dry measure, generally about two pounds. 



128 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

1 Bhot atcha,' l F. assented gravely for the upkeep of my 
dignity, adding that they had done well to procure the nuts 
with so little delay, considering. 

But a more serious question was concerned when on 
another occasion the peons sent a swift messenger empty- 
handed to ask whether or not the coolies should bring up 
the stores now waiting at the foot of the hill, as the only 
village where they had been able to procure rice in any 
quantity was full of smallpox, which was indeed rife, they 
heard, in all the villages, more or less ; so what was to be 
done ? 

None of our people were at all troubled for themselves ; 
that was Kismet, said the messenger ; and we had to be 
equally philosophical. Still, not desiring that particular 
supply of rice, we sent back word that some was to be got 
elsewhere, but that the men were to come up instead of 
staying where they were, exposed to infection. As they 
did not belong to the village mentioned they were not 
wanted there, so we had no choice. We isolated and 
dosed them on arrival, and no harm came of it. 

Unless smallpox should be so general as to interfere 
with the daily avocations of life — the shopkeepers no longer 
sitting over their wares, and the buyers sickening and dying 
— we might never hear of its presence at all. So much was 
this the case that when told of it we hardly regarded it as 
news, rather taking it for granted that none of the villagers 
were quite free. 

I was once staying with a friend who knew India better 
than I did at that time. We were not in camp, but at her 
home. One morning the ayah complained that a particu- 
larly large and fine sheet was missing from amongst the 
clean clothes just brought in by the dhoby (washerman). 
Mrs. E. replied by asking her if she knew of any funeral 
then going on or in preparation. ' No/ she did not, but she 

1 Bhot atcha = ' Very well,' and is emphatic, atcha being literally 'good.' 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 129 

* would find out immediately ; it was no use asking the 
dhoby, he would only he/ and she went away on her errand. 

This seemed to me highly irrelevant, but that was only 
my ignorance, for it was the main point. Mrs. E. told 
me that had the sheet been any ordinary one no more notice 
would have been taken than as of an oversight, but being 
that special one she guessed that it had been kept back for 
a funeral, to be spread over the corpse on a bier, either 
hired out, or for use by the dhoby's own family. It would 
not be burnt or buried, oh dear, no ! but returned honestly 
the following week, or the next after, according to circum- 
stances, with ' plenty salaams ' for the ' mistik.' 

The ayah found out that there was to be a funeral that 
very afternoon, so Mrs. E. decided to take a walk somewhere 
in the neighbourhood of its route. This was on the Hills, 
where Europeans do sometimes walk, so her doing so would 
not be remarked. 

In India one learns to know a man's status unerringly 
at first sight by the way he wears his cloth or twists his 
turban, the varying caste marks, threads, etc. ; his very 
trade has its distinctive signs, which are unnoticeable and 
meaningless to the eye of a ' grif ' ■ My friend was not a 
' grif/ so directly the procession appeared it proclaimed 
itself to her as a dhoby's funeral. We ourselves — I was 
with her — were hidden from view. 

The sheet that lay over the bier hung down deeply and 
was knotted at the corners. Mrs. E. whispered to me, 
' It 's something infectious, for turmeric is tied up in the 
corners, and if it is my sheet we shall know it by that.' 
She let them pass on, then asked the last straggler of what 
disease the person had died. ' Ammah ' (smallpox), came 
the startlingly prompt corroboration of her words. 

When the clean clothes were again brought home by the 
dhoby, in due course, sure enough there was the sheet with 

1 Anglo-Indian for novice, tyro, greenhorn. 
I 



130 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

four very pale gamboge corners ; and how beautifully that 
sheet was laundered ! The best had indeed been done with 
it, but it takes more than a little boiling and bleaching to 
get turmeric stains out completely ; still, if we had not been 
looking for them, it might have passed muster. 

To save the dhoby much needless perjuring of himself, 
which he was already beginning upon, Mrs. E. told him that 
she knew how the marks came to be there, but I have for- 
gotten whether any further justice was meted out to him, 
as well as what was done with the sheet. Very likely he 
walked off with that, though there was no more risk of 
infection from it than from the rest of the things or from 
the man himself ; we had been running the same risk all 
along without knowing it. And so it was always : some- 
times one knew of the danger, sometimes one did not — that 
was all the difference, and one soon learned not to worry. 

As to discharging the dhoby for his villainy, in the hope 
of finding one with better principles, the chances were of 
a distinction without any difference ; for every one of them 
lived in the dhoby village, where all were of a trade, and 
more or less distantly related to each other, a man's calling 
being hereditary in India : what he is that will his sons be, 
and his son's sons, to the twentieth generation. I am 
speaking of the peasant class, which is unaffected by Western 
influences. It used to be the same in all classes, but there 
are changes ; the ' old order ' is surely giving ' place to the 
new/ The Anglo-Indians of an earlier day would scarcely 
know it for the same land were they to find themselves back 
in India now. 

However, some things are stationary, and amongst them 
may be notably reckoned the use of those great flat stones 
of satin-smooth surface which are the main part of the 
dhoby' s stock-in-trade — heirlooms in his family, moreover — 
whereon one's property is banged in order to cleanse it. 
The bigger articles are treated singly, smaller ones, such 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 131 

as collars, handkerchiefs, etc., are strung by hundreds on 
a long thin cane ; with this the dhoby flogs the stone. His 
soap he gathers off a tree — the Saponaria — in the form of 
nuts, contriving to make as white a lather with them as 
with the best ' primrose/ and he completes the process of 
purification by boiling everything in water wherein cow- 
dung has been stirred. Does this modus operandi sound 
rough and disgusting to Western ears ? The dhoby is only 
using in its crude state — like his forefathers for centuries 
upon centuries before him — one of the natural products 
out of which modern chemistry conjures washing powders 
and other cleansing mediums with fine names. For all his 
primitive methods he will return one's things — the most 
delicate — not over-much torn, and all of a snowy freshness 
lovely to behold. 

Of Burmese and Chinese laundrymen I have no experience ; 
some say they beat the Indian dhobies in the results they 
produce : this has always seemed to me impossible. That 
the latter have no conscience on some points I have proved, 
but neither are the others immaculate. 

Among clever people, the thieves of India may be said to 
take first rank in their own fine. Never mind what they 
do, it is done ne plus ultra. What is beyond them in the 
light-fingered way has, I should say, yet to be devised. 

A man may go to bed between a pair of sheets and wake 
up without them. Nothing disturbed him, nor was he rest- 
less ; he is not dreaming now, and he feels quite as usual, 
so he can't have been drugged. Certainly not for such a 
trifle as that. He was only tapped and patted by some of 
the most delicate finger-tips in the world, and every time he 
shifted and stirred sleepily a decisive, if tiny, pull was given 
to the under sheet. It only took patience on the part of 
the thief, and little by little it was drawn away. The top 
one he merely had to lift off before leaving. 

But supposing matters have been made more difficult, so 



132 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

that the thief's errand is likely to take a good while, then 
the victim must be prevented from waking too soon, and 
they know what to do. Probably his windows are fitted 
not with glass, but with plmies. These jilmies are a sort 
of venetian-blind, opening and shutting by means of a stick 
down the middle, the fastening of which, though inside, 
can be manoeuvred, and lend themselves very nicely to the 
thieves' methods. A long bamboo with a rag steeped in 
some narcotic tied on to the end can be easily pushed 
through the one handiest for the sleeper's face, and held 
close against his mouth and nose for a few seconds. No 
fear now of his waking even if fireworks were let off at his 
ears. Very likely he will oversleep himself, but that is the 
extent of the harm done, barring the being lightened of a 
few of his belongings. These may have been hooked out 
with the ever-useful bamboo — one equipped for the pur- 
pose — this being the plan best adapted for the abstraction 
of clothes. To compass the theft the more safely, most 
likely the servants and peons stretched on their mats out- 
side their master's doors, or lying about in the verandahs, 
have also been given a sniff of something quieting. Even 
if grasped the thieves are not to be held ; for they oil 
themselves well before starting on their jaunt, though a 
friend of ours did once capture one, and kept him by the 
help of fish-hooks in his hair ! That was the only European 
I ever knew to be upsides with a bazaar thief. 

The theft of clothes is common, but as those of a European 
would be no use to natives themselves, it follows that there 
must be a market for such goods. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 133 



CHAPTER XII 

Government order for general vaccination — Order rescinded — Lepers — 
Country leprosy — Cholera. 

At one time when smallpox was especially virulent through- 
out F.'s district, The Wynad then, orders were issued by 
the Government that every one should be vaccinated. 
Centres had to be arranged at which the people might 
assemble for this purpose. This was only accomplished 
after endless obstacles and difficulties of all kinds had been 
met, for there was a strong prejudice against vaccination. 
I don't think we were altogether free from it ourselves, but 
there was no resisting stringent Government orders. Every 
coffee planter in the district, far and near, was to see that 
his hundreds of coolies duly presented themselves. With 
estate muster-rolls this was possible, but it was not so easy 
to get hold of the scattered units of the general population 
in outlying parts. 

By dint of careful planning and proper organisation the 
business had, however, been put in train for some weeks. 
A letter in English from a native Forest subordinate which 
I remember hearing quoted described the method about 
to be used. He wrote that they intended to ' persuade by 
force ' ; and I don't doubt that by means of it many a 
struggling wretch was dragged to the operating station 
against his will. 

It had been arranged that all under Forest jurisdiction 
within a certain radius should be vaccinated in our com- 
pound, for the convenience of the division and to ensure 
every person being included ; not a single one was to be 



134 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

allowed to escape, which all — at least all the natives — 
were bent upon doing. 

Great preparations had been made by our servants for 
the feeding of these crowds, who were frightened to death 
at the prospect before them, and now the dreaded day had 
come ; the compound was thronged ; everything was in 
readiness, and the doctor and his Eurasian assistants had 
arrived from the hospital. 

Our system of vaccination might be new to these people, 
but not the idea of inoculating one disease in order to combat 
or forestall another. That is centuries old, and they were 
familiar with its attendant dangers ; it was, in fact, the 
thought of those dangers that now so terrified them. ' Well 
took physic, fell sick, and died ' is a saying that might be 
remembered sometimes to much advantage. We, too, had 
heard hideous stories of disease contracted through tainted 
lymph, but we were assured that all precautions had been 
taken, and that the vaccine was of the purest, for the chil- 
dren and calves from which it was procured had been 
under medical observation. All that we had to take on 
trust. In any case, there was no escape, and the fateful 
moment had arrived. F. offered himself first, as an encour- 
agement to the shrinking creatures around ; in another few 
minutes the doctor would have begun and finished with 
him. My turn would have come next, I suppose, then that 
of the household servants, and so on, till the entire com- 
poundful of people had been rendered immune from small- 
pox at any rate, had not a totally unexpected interruption 
now occurred. First a sound of galloping hoofs approaching 
broke upon the ears of the assembled people, and in another 
moment a couple of horsemen showed themselves tearing 
up the hill, frantically waving papers in their right hands. 
As they neared they were seen to be white with dust and 
their faces livid and colourless, so hard had they ridden 
in order to be in time to stop the vaccination ! Their errand 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 135 

was soon told. It had been discovered that the vaccine 
lymph about to be used had come from the most leprous 
village in Southern India ! The message was delivered just 
in time — not an instant to spare ; an accident to man or 
horse, an extra drink of water on the road — the veriest 
trifle — and some of us would have been surely doomed to 
the most awful fate on earth. But those two fine fellows 
were not chosen at haphazard ; they knew what was 
wanted of them ; their orders were to ride like the wind, 
to save lives ; to eat and drink riding ; to stop for nothing ; 
above all, to be in time. 

I cannot now remember with how many changes of horses 
these men had covered mile after mile at unslackening 
gallop, over any sort of ground, and roads that, as we knew, 
were like dry watercourses ; nor how long or short a time 
their desperate ride took them ; but I know that they ful- 
filled their mission grandly, nearly falling out of their saddles 
with fatigue as they pulled up at their appointed goal. 
Nor were they forgetful of the good horses that had served 
them so well ; for we heard them give the syces who were 
leading the spent animals away a rapid word of caution 
not to water them directly, only to rinse out their mouths 
and bathe their faces, legs, and feet, till they should cool 
down a little. They had not thought of themselves, but 
F. saw that all was provided for their comfort and rest. 
The men were Mussulmanis — high-bred, finely strung — 
whose endurance would give out only with death. Our 
feelings towards them are not to be described. Besides 
ourselves, all those hundreds, aye, thousands, of men, 
women, and children, even the tiny babies, were all to have 
been subjected to the same deadly risk, if not certainty, 
of contracting one of the most horrific diseases from which 
man can suffer. 

I was for heaping presents on these men : gold watches 
and chains — possessions in which they would especially 



136 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

glory — to begin with ; but F. said there must not be a hint 
of such a thing. That they would not go unrewarded he 
knew ; the Government would see to it ; then, with per- 
mission, we might add our personal gifts to show our 
gratitude. And so it came about. 

What first led the authorities to suspect the source of 
the vaccine for our division I do not know, but their action 
showed that they were on the alert, and thus a widespread 
calamity was averted. Subsequent investigation proved 
to the hilt that that village was a forcing-bed of leprosy 
in an awful form, but it was not allowed to exist as one 
much longer. The dwellings were burnt, all the animals 
were destroyed, and every person affected — strange to say, 
some were not — was deported to one of the leper establish- 
ments, of which there are several scattered up and down 
India. The neighbouring villages were strictly searched, 
but as they had held no communication with the one where 
leprosy was rife, no signs of it were found in them. At the 
same time, we wondered at the callousness or philosophy 
with which the people endured such proximity. As in 
regard to the crocodiles of Poolpadi, it was evidently 
familiarity that had engendered contempt. It is the same 
with those who can calmly dwell on the slopes of a volcano, 
ignoring the danger. 

Leprosy has been conserved by generations of unchecked 
transmission ; its primary cause is bad water, that mother 
of many kindred ills, including elephantiasis and the guinea- 
worm, of which more anon. It was common enough, at 
any rate, on the west coast, which was the part of India 
best known to us. 

It is still a question whether leprosy be infectious or not ; 
contagious it certainly is, and also hereditary. I have been 
told that it is allied to tuberculosis, yet while the latter 
is freely spoken of and written about in England, no word 
is ever breathed there of the former, as far as I know. In 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 137 

these days at least ; but I have an old Historical Magazine 
for 1790, which says, taking its facts and quoting from 
Hutchinson's History, etc., of Durham : — 

' The leprosy was much more common in this part of the globe 
formerly than at present, and, perhaps, near half the hospitals 
that were in England were for lepers. At the five gates of 
Norwich were five houses of this sort; and lepers were so 
numerous in the twelfth century that by a decree in the Lateran 
Council, under Pope Alexander in., 1179, they were empowered 
to erect churches for themselves and to have ministers (lepers, we 
may suppose) to officiate in them. This shows at once how 
infectious and offensive their distemper was ; and on this account 
in England, " where a man was a leper, and dwelling in a town, 
and would come into the church, or among his neighbours, where 
they have assembled, to talk with them to their annoyance or 
disturbance, a writ lay de leproso amovendo." 

' What follows is remarkable. The writ is for those lepers who 
appear in the sight of all men that they are lepers, by their voice 
and sores, the putrefaction of their flesh, and by the smell of 
them. And so late as the reign of Edward the Sixth multitudes 
of lepers seem to have been in England ; for in 1 Edward VI. c. 3, 
in which directions are given for carrying the poor to the places 
where they were born, etc., we read the following clause : — 
"Provided always that all leprous and poor bed-rid creatures may, 
at their liberty, remain and continue in such houses appointed for 
lepers or bed-rid people as they now lie in." ' 

The leprosy from which we were all rescued that day 
was the kind which eats the flesh and corrodes the bones ; 
creeping on gradually, not to be arrested till the poor body 
becomes one running sore from head to foot, drying off, 
and sloughing away till no flesh remains but what hangs 
in shreds. Hair, teeth, nails, and every feature gone, with 
no semblance of a face left, the victim yet lives on, often 
for years ; not always suffering, but abhorrent to himself 
and to all others save a self -chosen band, who may truly be 
numbered among the ' noble army of martyrs.' 

Such a leper we once saw from the window of a very slow- 
moving train. A man was passing along, not far off, 



138 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

hurriedly but carefully bearing the ghastly object thrown 
across his shoulder. F. saw it first, and hastily pointed 
out of the opposite window at anything or nothing to divert 
my attention, but he was just too late by a second : the 
sight was, indeed, enough to haunt one ever after, and it 
made us feel quite sick. The fact itself seemed unaccount- 
able till we learned that a hospital for lepers had been 
started in the neighbourhood by some nuns, an old fortress 
perched high on a hill having been converted into a convent 
for this purpose. Far from appreciating the boon, the 
relatives of those they succoured sometimes stole them 
away, as perhaps in the present instance. 

Nature is said to have her antidote for every poison, her 
remedy for every disease. Her cure for leprosy has not as 
yet been discovered. Such a quest would seem a more 
worthy employment for great intellects than the devising 
of engines of destruction and death. That cure, perhaps, 
lies in the direction of radium. 

I have seen the afflicted creatures in the great leper hos- 
pital — colony, rather — at the French settlement of Pondi- 
cherry. They were behind walls so high that one could see 
over them only from such a place as that in which I was 
then living, namely, a roof-house ; not the roof of a house, 
merely, but a suite of rooms on the roof — a very coveted 
suite it was, too. This commanded a view of both the 
buildings — for men and for women — and of the park-like 
grounds surrounding them, with their green expanse of 
grass, water-lilied ponds, and shady avenues. About it 
the poor things crept or crawled ; amongst them moved 
the sisters of mercy, self -doomed volunteers in a forlorn hope, 
for no one who enters through the gates may ever pass back 
into the world again. The cemetery also is within. The 
community receives a grant from the French Government. 

It seems to me now, as it did then, when in the fulness 
of my own health and strength I watched that quiet scene, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 139 

that the self-immolation of those sisters and brethren, and 
of their comrades devoted to the same work in other places, 
transcends in sublimity all there is, or can be, of heroism 
in the world. In its very hopelessness lies the grandeur 
of this self-sacrifice. ' Lasciate ogni speranza, voi che 
entrate ' is surely deeply graven on the portals of these 
tombs of the living ; but it is something more than an 
earthly hope that first impels these men and women to a 
life among sights and sounds and odours repulsive to every 
sense, and then sustains them in their labour of love, though 
it lead on to an almost certain fate terrible to contemplate. 

Of Father Damien, the hero-martyr of Molokai (the 
Leper Island) we have all heard ; yet there are hundreds 
such as he — an army of nameless ones — and if any fall out 
of the ranks there are ever others eager to step in : the supply 
amply meets the demand. 

One hears talk of ' fallen ' human nature ; I have often 
marvelled at the heights to which it rises. If opportunity 
make criminals, so also does it make very saints and angels 
of mercy. St. Elizabeths and Father Damiens there have 
always been, and always will be, for we find them all down 
the centuries. 

Missionaries, explorers, and others of enterprising spirit 
go bravely and boldly enough into all manner of holes and 
corners of the earth, carrying their fives in their hands, 
together with the fives of those who are paid to follow them ; 
they may or they may not come out alive. These others 
yield up their lives in advance ; they do more, they embrace 
a death in life — touched, indeed, with the fire ' from off the 
altar.' 

Besides the awful form of leprosy generally understood 
by the word, there is another comparatively harmless, 
though offensive enough to the eyes ; at any rate, to those 
of Europeans. It causes neither bodily suffering nor even 
discomfort ; nor is it infectious, for Roman Catholic 



140 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

priests, Salvation Army evangelists, and mission people 
generally, who in their quiet heroism go unshrinkingly 
everywhere, rarely contract this, the ordinary leprosy of 
the country. 1 

I believe it to be no more than leucoderma (white skin), 
a diseased condition of the skin, in which there is a defi- 
ciency of colouring matter, but which is harmless and 
unimportant ; to the eye it consists of palish blotches, 
showing up in a startling manner on a dark skin. Some- 
times it occurs merely in spots ; sometimes almost the entire 
body is covered. I have seen it myself in one or two 
instances when no brown at all was visible, only that dread- 
ful sickly hue ; most dreadful in appearance, but, as I 
have said, not in the least painful ; nor does it disqualify 
the subjects of it in their business. The children of such 
persons may or may not be thus marked. 

It happened once that some mat-makers had been sent 
for to fit rattan matting all over a bungalow we had just 
taken. I saw them coming along under their twenty to 
thirty-foot sheaves of springy cane ; amongst them were 
several ' piebalds,' who had large pinkish-white patches on 
their brown bodies. It gave me quite a turn, and I said as 
much to the servants, who assured me that there was nothing 
the matter with the men that could affect other people ; 
1 only country leprosy ' they called it, evidently having no 
prejudices against it personally. Nevertheless, so unpleas- 
ant did they look to me that I gave orders they should be 
paid their day's wage, and asked to change themselves for 
others of one colour all over. They were not the least 
offended at the request, and laying down their bundles 
(which I would rather they had taken with them) salaamed 
and retired, much marvelling doubtless, but looking 
jubilant at being paid for doing nothing ! The others, 

1 Compare Matt. xxv. 6. Simon's leprosy must have been of this harmless 
sort. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 141 

however, who, being of a good wholesome brown, were 
retained to work, seemed so much aggrieved that they were 
promised double wages. At this turn of affairs they set 
to work with a will, and became quite chatty, laughing 
amongst themselves as at a very good joke. 

The work of these men interested me greatly, and I stood 
watching their deft fingers so doubling and twisting the 
damped pliant canes as to fit perfectly into every corner 
and crevice and recess, even the very smallest, without 
leaving an inch of bare floor visible anywhere, no matter 
what shape the rooms might be. They never looked up 
for an instant, but went on plaiting and weaving and fitting 
inch by inch, adding yard to yard — in a pattern, too — each 
man's work meeting his neighbour's and dovetailing into 
it as if by magic, a little sharp knife their only tool. 

Their joke lasted them all that day, and when paying- time 
came it seemed almost too much for them. While they 
were working such behaviour passed for mirth, but they 
knew it was not respectful to laugh in my presence after- 
wards, and tried to hide behind each other discreetly. 
As a rule, it is not well to be inquisitive about what natives 
may be jabbering and making merry over, but there was 
something about these people that I could not resist having 
them asked what was amusing them so much. It was this, 
that those men with the pale patches on their skin should 
have been sent away on full wages, whilst they who remained 
received double money. They were all just the same ; in 
some the patches showed outwardly, in others they did 
not. In proof of this they would, if I liked, bring me their 
children to see. All were lepers together, and it was so 
very funny for the Dursani to want to pay people for that 
sort of thing ! They missed my point entirely, and I as 
certainly missed theirs, for I saw nothing amusing about it, 
nor did I wish for an exhibition of their children. After 
the account they gave of themselves I objected to having 



142 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

any of their handiwork in the house, but F. said that that 
was being altogether too fanciful. Every one's house was 
matted by these people, who lived in a community of their 
own, not because they were lepers, but because they were 
mat-weavers. That sort of leprosy was not catching, and 
mattered nothing to anybody, nor did they mind it them- 
selves (as, indeed, I had gathered from their light-hearted- 
ness) ; and this seemed to be the general view. Though 
these people are not shunned by others, they intermarry 
only with each other, and thus perpetuate their variegated 
breed. Later on, happening to pass near their village, 
Ferook, I saw numerous little specimens running about, 
and was afterwards glad to have done so, for it was the fear- 
ing too sad a sight that had made me shrink from seeing 
them before. Now that fear was set at rest ; they were 
neither sick nor sorry, and as nimble and sturdy as any other 
little butchas. 1 

More or less cholera, equally with smallpox and leprosy, 
exists everywhere in India. A strange thing about it is 
that if it begin with the native population, it confines its 
ravages to natives in that particular locality. So well 
known is this fact that Europeans drive fearlessly through 
stricken districts and their crowded bazaars. But, strange 
to say, should Europeans be the first to be attacked, natives 
succumb to it as well. Why this should be so one cannot 
say ; that such is the case has been remarked on every 
outbreak of the epidemic, which runs a similar course each 
time. 

1 Butcha, Hindustani for child. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 143 



CHAPTER XIII 

Elephantiasis — Guinea-worm — Rainfall — Showers of fish — An exceptional 
season — An uninvited guest — Panthers in The Wynad — Pony and 
panther — Commotion in kennel — Helmet bird — Strange dishes. 

Elephantiasis is supposed to be a form of leprosy, though 
of a different aspect, and unaccompanied by any pain ; 
but it is, in fact, hardly less dreadful, for the person afflicted 
with it cannot move about much more freely. The affected 
limb, generally a leg, puts on a diseased growth of the skin, 
and gradually becomes enormously thick, till at length it 
assumes the very size and appearance of an elephant's leg 
from the toes upwards ; hence the name. The knee and 
ankle joints can still be bent very slightly in moving, but 
neither ankle nor instep are discernible ; the toes grow to 
be exactly like those of an elephant, with the nails turning 
downwards ; the limb slowly but surely takes on the self- 
same colouring, a dark ash occasionally pink and blotchy, 
and the surface becomes hard and corrugated till the very 
counterpart of an elephant's leg is presented to the eye. 

A servant of ours — one of the best — had such a leg and 
foot. When we were engaging him he asked if there were 
children to be attended to, or stairs in our house, as if either 
were so he was not fitted for the work. Neither being the 
case, and we unlikely to change our house, he entered our 
service as butler. Beyond a slowness in walking, owing to 
the awful weight he carried, there was little difference to 
be noticed between him and another. This weight, he 
told us, sometimes tried him, and caused a general feeling 
of uneasiness in that limb, but he had become used to it, 



144 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

as it had taken years to attain its present shape and size, 
and he did not suffer pain. Nervous, fanciful people might 
have objected to such a servant, and to the sight of his 
foot, or rather to the little bit of it that was visible 
under the closely-setting white petticoat worn by household 
servants and some other classes in Malabar (where we then 
were), their dress consisting of a straight piece of muslin 
wound several times round the waist and reaching to the 
ankle, with a white calico jacket above. The man was a 
native of the west coast, where elephantiasis is fearfully 
common. 

A poor woman whom we saw most days squatting over 
her baskets of fruit in the bazaar had an arm affected in 
the same way. As far as it is possible for an arm to be like 
a leg, hers was like an elephant's. This poor creature had a 
double weight to carry, for to get along at all without falling 
over she was obliged to be balanced on the other side. 
The awful growth and dark discoloration began from her 
shoulder, which was unaffected. The joint of the elbow 
could be bent slightly, like those of the leg and ankle I have 
mentioned. The bones are not touched by the disease, 
which is entirely in the skin and immediately beneath it. 

Sometimes the face is the part affected. Though the 
disease does not of itself destroy the eyesight or the organs 
of smell, hearing, speech, etc., yet the skin grows and thickens 
round them in such a way as to produce much the same 
result. Though the afflicted person's eyes are uninjured 
he cannot use them, for the lids become so thick as to be 
almost fixed, the cheek below meeting them, it may be on 
one side only, it may be on both. So, too, with the ears, 
nose, mouth — all are rendered useless, so overlaid is each 
feature with this unspeakably dreadful growth. His speech 
is unintelligible ; to take nourishment, except in liquid 
form, is sometimes impossible to him from inability to move 
the jaws sufficiently to masticate ; he is well-nigh helpless. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 145 

Notwithstanding all this, the poor creatures linger on for 
years. One cannot but wonder what purpose in the general 
scheme of things such martyrdoms can serve. 

I have said that this almost grotesque disease is attributed 
to bad water, but as every one drinks the same water, and 
only a small proportion of the people are so affected, the 
explanation seems inadequate, taken by itself. All Euro- 
peans have their drinking water filtered, as a matter of 
course, or even distilled, as we did when at Coimbatore. 
Some few advanced natives do so too, but the filtering 
is very commonly only nominal unless personally super- 
vised ; yet, as far as I am aware, no European was ever 
known to contract elephantiasis, and the cause, I fancy, 
is to be sought in the blood, and most probably a leprous 
taint in those who become its victims. 

Salt-fish, eaten in the large quantity it is by natives, is 
said to be the contributory cause of elephantiasis, and also 
the origin of guinea-worm — another repulsive disease that 
afflicts the inhabitants of India, and other tropical countries 
as well. I have known two instances of Englishmen in 
India suffering from this scourge. 

The guinea-worm is a parasite that burrows in the flesh. 
Usually, in the beginning, a slight uneasiness is felt, say on 
the instep ; then the skin breaks, and the head of the worm 
appears. The way to deal with it is to wind off daily as much 
as can be drawn from the place upon a reel which is kept 
bound to it, taking great care not to break the length, for 
if broken it would start back, and all have to be done over 
again, perhaps in some entirely fresh part ; whereas, by 
good fortune and the exercise of care and patience, the entire 
worm may be thus removed. Even then the process may 
sometimes extend over years. Happy is the victim of this 
malady if it occur on a part of his body that he can reach, 
for then he is able himself to give it the unwearying atten- 
tion required in order to get rid of it. It does not necessarily 



146 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

prevent him from pursuing his business, whatever that may 
be, but it keeps him for ever on his guard lest a chance touch 
should knock down that cure-edifice which he has been 
building up, maybe during many a patient month, round 
that dreadful reel — a veritable torture-toy of Nature's. 

Though I don't claim for the west coast that it has a 
monopoly of this sort of thing, the east coast is generally 
more healthy, being drier, and not coming within the 
influence of the south-west monsoon blowing from the vast 
cauldron of the Indian Ocean. Great heat and damp com- 
bined for long together bring about conditions favourable 
to skin and other diseases. Doubtless the Madras side has 
its own peculiarities and disadvantages, but of these I had 
little personal experience. 

The rainfall on the southern portion of the west coast 
would suffice to water the entire peninsula if evenly dis- 
tributed. Superabundant here, totally lacking elsewhere, 
could some man of science contrive a comprehensive system 
of irrigation by which the water supply should be thus 
equalised, he would serve his own and later generations 
far better than by the most brilliant success in the art of 
aviation, which is now absorbing so many of the keenest 
intellects. 

For five years we were stationed at Coimbatore, a place 
— inland and easterly — where two inches or two and a half 
inches for the whole year were considered quite a good rain- 
fall, the usual amount being under two. There, when we 
scented the delicious fragrance of rain in the air, of wind 
blowing over damp earth, and the first drops began to fall, 
we literally stood out of doors to be sprinkled ; rejoicing, 
too, in the knowledge of what that rain was about to do for 
the land. 

In Calcutta, after a heavy shower, fish are sometimes 
found strewn on the ground and upon the flat roofs, deposited 
by rain-clouds which have drawn them up from swollen 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 147 

rivers. I have never seen that myself, but another some- 
what similar and very pretty sight I have seen in the Deccan. 
The ground would be covered with exquisitely beautiful 
insects — spiders of some kind — with soft plush-like bodies 
of vivid scarlet, about the size of a cherry stone, but flatter ; 
they reddened the earth, so thickly did they lie about. I 
sometimes wondered whether they could be ordinary insects 
chemically turned red by the action of the rain-water ; for, 
the shower over, one saw no more of them to notice. 

Rain, as known in the tropics, cannot be rightly imagined 
by those who have not seen it. It is a very wall or sheet of 
water, lowered and lowered, hour after hour, day after day, 
sometimes week after week. For six weeks in succession 
have I known rain of that tropical sort to fall continuously ; 
if it stopped at all during that time it was at night, for it 
certainly did not do so by day for so much as half an hour. 
One night it surpassed itself ; without storm or sound it 
steadily descended, and in the morning the rain-gauges 
were found to register twenty-four inches for the twelve 
hours ! That was phenomenal, and happened at Telli- 
cherry, on the west coast ; only to be beaten at Cherapoonji, 
in Northern India, which has the greatest rainfall in India, 
if not in the world. 

The year of that night of rain was a disastrous one, and 
was long remembered for its consequences — devastation by 
floods, the bursting of dams, the annihilation of villages, the 
destruction of the people's very livelihood by the drowning 
of their animals. Of these many were also to be seen lying 
dead from exposure on the roadside or in the grazing 
pastures. The very crows fell off the trees, so drenched 
with the rain and cramped with cold were they. 

The place — Manantavadi, 1 in The Wynad — where we were 
then living was some two thousand five hundred feet or 
more above sea-level, and to make it comfortable for people 

1 Generally pronounced Manantoddy. 



148 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

who were better used to a temperature of ninety degrees 
in the shade, fires had to be kept up for quite six months 
every year, let alone this exceptional one. 

One morning, not far from the bungalow, F. came upon 
a panther, on his very path, all but dead from starvation, 
and killed it in sheer pity for its wasted condition. Our 
people brought in two, and a fourth they found more dead 
than alive, famished and spiritless with misery ; all four 
in the space of a week ! 

There was much unreclaimed forest and scrub in the 
neighbourhood, and the wild things that inhabited it 
suffered frightfully from the continuous cold and wet, which 
seemed to alter all the accustomed conditions of their lives, 
and it was at this time that we got up one morning to find 
that we had unawares entertained as a guest during the night 
a panther, who had adventured his precious but most 
miserable self under our roof — anything for shelter — curling 
himself up on a sofa in the verandah ! 

This verandah was a closed-in one, with windows round 
three sides, and a very rough door, never shutting properly, 
which, being made of unseasoned planks, shrank in the dry 
and swelled in the wet weather, in this matching the rest 
of this special habitation, so that we looked for nothing 
better, nor sought to remedy it. Hence the distressed 
creature, finding no hindrance, crept in, enticed by the 
warmth, and perhaps the chance of a bite of food — em- 
boldened or, it may be, tamed by stress of misery. 

When the dogs were let out they tore about the place like 
mad things, baying and whining in deafening chorus, and 
would have dragged the sofa to pieces, only we shut them 
out of the verandah as we wanted to look round first. 

The dried muddy pugs were quite distinctly recognisable 
for those of a full-grown panther ; the sofa rug and a 
flannel coat of F.'s were damp where they had been lain on, 
and were covered, too, with a quantity of jet-black hairs, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 149 

proving that this special panther was one of the rarest and 
most beautiful of the species ; and very strange it was that 
just then a large reward was being offered by the Govern- 
ment for a specimen, dead or alive, of a black panther. 

The animal had doubtless taken himself off at the first 
streak of dawn, very much the better for his good square 
meal and warm night's rest. Perhaps, with an eye to repeat- 
ing the experiment, he had not gone very far either ; but 
most surely no harm should have befallen him under our 
roof, he having ' eaten our salt ' in the form of dog biscuits, 
which we felt quite glad should have been left in his way 
overnight, and of which just a remnant remained to prove 
that he could eat no more. 

A panther coming to the bungalow thus for food and 
shelter was a very unusual and incautious act on the part 
of one of the wariest of animals, only showing him to have 
been at his wits' end for a living. He would be used to a 
certain amount of wet and cold, the monsoon being heavy 
here as compared with some places, but this was an excep- 
tional season — not a dry inch anywhere — and all the denizens 
of the forest were suffering. 

For six weeks we tasted no bread, except what was 
home-made, as the road was impassable for the coolies upon 
whom we depended for some of our supplies. They had 
thirty miles to travel to the nearest stores, and the few 
Europeans in the place joined in a sort of club to send for 
things in this way every fortnight. Neither could we have 
potatoes ; as a substitute we ate, and thankfully, the boiled 
seeds of the jack fruit, 1 which are not unlike chestnuts in 
taste. 

This district was at all times and in all parts what we 
called a ' panthery ' region. The native town of Mananta- 

1 Artocarpus integrifolia, a native of the Indian Archipelago, cultivated 
in Southern India. The fruit is a favourite article of food with the natives, 
as are the roasted seeds. 



150 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

vadi, which was the seat of Government locally, lay in the 
low flat land between surrounding and isolated low hills, and 
consisted of one irregular street with countless alleys. All 
around was the ubiquitous Lantana, forming by its thick 
growth a very nursery for young panthers. 

There were four European bungalows besides the hospital : 
one for the doctor and his household ; one for the Super- 
intendent of Police ; one for the District Magistrate ; and 
one for the Forest Officer. 

Each bungalow was perched on the summit of its own 
hill, and apart from the gardens ; very little more of the 
jungle was cleared round it than enough to make it ap- 
proachable by a carriage drive, or maybe by only a bridle- 
path. The ' carriage drives ' were as far removed as possible 
from the idea that word usually conveys. They were steep, 
stony, narrow, winding ; nothing to mind, however, when 
used to them. 

I had been ' tiffing ' with the doctor's wife, and was riding 
leisurely home one evening after dark, the syce walking 
ahead with a lantern, when I fancied I smelt a panther. I 
was not sure, however, and my pony's quicker senses were 
beforehand with me. Without the least warning he simply 
laid legs to the ground, took a bee-line for his stable, and 
tore home, the syce being nowhere. That pony knew all 
the short cuts, and took them. Though not anything of a 
rider, I had learnt the knack of sticking on, but the diffi- 
culty now was not so much that as to keep myself from 
being dragged off by the strong overhanging boughs, some 
of which were thorny and clinging. The monsoon being 
in, all vegetation was at its thickest growth ; indeed, only 
by going in this headlong fashion could I have got through 
at all. The ground was full of holes and puddles, but little 
recked my pony of such trifles ; on he flew, while the 
panther, doubtless, was going just as fast in an opposite 
direction, but I had not had enough experience to be sure 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 151 

of it in those days, and I had no mind to be left behind. 
At length the home lights appeared, and all danger from the 
panther was at an end, but with ' Charlie ' heading straight 
for his stable at full pelt it was all I could do to avoid 
being brained in passing through the wickedly low doorway 
by burying my face in his mane. We were both scratched 
and bleeding, and it took some time, and a good deal of 
bread and sugar, before the terrified little animal was 
soothed and quieted. 

The panthers, however, though not usually aggressive, 
were sometimes pretty bold, and would even snatch a dog 
from off the very doorstep if not prevented. This happened 
once to my knowledge, and the dog's rescue was miraculous. 

It was near the dinner hour — eight o'clock — at the 
bungalow of a coffee planter and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. N., 
friends of ours, who lived about twelve miles from where 
we were. He and she, as very usual at that hour, were 
bathing and dressing. The servants were laying the table 
in the dining-room, which opened on a wide verandah, 
having a deep flight of ten or more steps leading into the 
garden. Crotons and various other large shrubs grew round 
about, but nothing to be considered as cover. Lights there 
were in plenty on all sides. 

Several dogs lay taking their ease in the verandah, and 
one had stretched herself on a step, not far down, and 
quite within the light. Her a lurking panther dared to 
seize, and was making off with, without a sound from 
either, under the very eyes of the servants, one of whom, 
however, saw what was happening, and raised the outcry 
which brought master and mistress upon the scene. That 
something had happened to Dido they could just make out 
amid the din of cries and anathemas on the marauder that 
ensued. Before this time Mr. N. would simply have stared 
at the idea of leaving his room apparelled in a bath-sheet, 
but such was the preoccupation of every mind at the 



152 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

moment that, as we were told afterwards, lie actually did 
so on this occasion, armed with a rifle, when, lo and behold ! 
a few yards from the bottom step lay the gasping, half- 
choked, but unhurt Dido, her collar beside her ! It was 
evident that the panther must have caught her up by it, 
and, what with the weight and the leather being probably 
worn thin, it gave way at the buckle, so setting the dog 
free, for she had not so much as a tooth-mark on her ! The 
only pity was that the scene could not be snapshotted. 

It was no rare occurrence, however, for dogs to be carried 
off, without hope of a miracle, if loose after four o'clock, 
or farther away than beside one's chair. Invasion of the 
kennel was even attempted, and after one such fright, when 
it had a reasonably strong thatched roof, we had this re- 
placed by tiles, and we, and the dogs too, slept in peace ; 
till one night when a very bold, hungry panther clambered 
on to it and began clawing his way inside. Needless to 
say, the inmates raised such a bedlam as woke every one 
about the place, and he was glad to take himself off as 
quickly as possible, leaving a claw or two behind. Lucky 
for him that F. was away ! 

It was at Manantavadi that we once had a whole after- 
noon's amusement and interest watching the gambols of 
a couple of panther cubs, sitting the while in our verandah 
and looking across to the opposite hillside, no great distance 
away. The hills being scarcely more than eminences, only 
a few hundred yards lay between their playground and our 
bungalow. These little creatures played with each other's 
tails, and rolled over and over, exactly like kittens, without 
a touch of malice or savagery — all was pure mischief and 
fun. Very young, they were just fat round things, with 
fuzzy, yellowish-grey coats ; not sleek as yet, nor had the 
tawny colour and distinct black rosettes even begun to 
appear. There was nothing as yet of the lithe, cruel grace 
of the panther-form — only rounded baby limbs. Their 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 153 

mother could not have been far off, but we neither saw nor 
heard anything of her till quite late, when the two babies 
had romped and tumbled themselves tired, and were lying 
on their sides, paws in air, after the manner of kittens. 
Then a deep sharp note or call from somewhere we did hear, 
very different from the harsh roar we knew so well when 
it echoed through the jungle. The cubs were keen to hear 
it too ; they scrambled to their feet and scampered off, 
tails on end. 

A panther's usual note so exactly resembles the sound of 
wood being sawn in a sawpit (which gives a hollowness and 
depth) that one may easily be mistaken for the other. 
The same may be said of the cry of the Great Toucan or 
helmet bird — so called from the bony black headpiece 
jutting over its eyes ; but as this is uttered chiefly when 
flying, and consequently dies away speedily, it can be recog- 
nised for what it is without difficulty, though not at first 
hearing. 

Speaking of these huge birds, I remember an occasion 
when one had been shot and the wings given to me. They 
are yellowish-white in colour, being pure yellow as to the 
shoulders and a few of the feathers. These wings were 
soiled and tumbled, so I had them washed. To my intense 
surprise, when the first rinsing water was changed the 
next became yellow immediately, and the longer the wings 
remained in it the deeper yellow it became. Drawing a 
quill, I found it full at the base of a dark orange colouring 
matter, thick like a paste, which, mingling with the water, 
tinted it and the feathers immersed in it of a pure, pale, 
and varying yellow. We thought it an extraordinarily 
artificial arrangement on the part of Dame Nature. 

The flight of these rather ugly birds is a very clumsy one ; 
they may be seen flopping and tumbling as though they 
were learning the art, but, nevertheless, they can go along 
at a great rate. 



154 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

We had the specimen I have mentioned cooked, wishing 
to taste it, for we were of an inquisitive turn and in the habit 
of testing the qualities of most things ; however, it proved 
rank and beefy, though the bird is a fruit and grain feeder. 

Among the meats that we made trial of I should place 
bison hump first and foremost as a delicacy ; followed closely 
by bison marrow and bison oxtail soup ; also the jelly 
made from the feet. 

We have dined enjoyably, too, off a slice of elephant 
rib. Though rather stringy, it was not tough, and for taste 
might have been either mutton or beef. Wild venison and 
wild pork were, I need hardly say, excellent. Hares, too, 
there were in plenty for those who liked them ; but after 
once seeing a hare's interior I never even wanted one in 
the house again, so infested was it with parasites. I learned 
that that particular hare was not peculiar — all are the same. 
Rabbits do not exist wild in India, and no one keeps them 
as pets (for fattening and future slaying !) as in England. 

We also tasted the milk of an elephant — one of the tame 
ones, as all would understand. It proved to be the very 
contrary to what one might imagine as necessary for the 
sustenance of a sturdy elephant calf, being thin and bluish, 
looking no better than skim milk and water, and tasting 
like that. Bison milk was, of course, unobtainable, but is 
probably very much the same as that of any other cow. 
The milk of the ibex or wild goat we tested, and only wished 
it were always to be had, for it must surely be the richest 
of all, being like cream itself, and quite delicious ! The 
opportunity of trying it was afforded us during a long and 
important tour, the object of which was capturing ibex 
alive, in enormous nets, for shipment home as gifts to the 
Zoological Gardens. In this F. was entirely successful, 
and never a one hurt among them. While in our keeping 
these wild things became as docile as our own goats, running 
to call at milking-time as they did. 



§■■ 



1 




ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 155 



CHAPTER XIV 

Manantavadi and malaria — Experimental Garden — Products — A clever 
thief — Blacksmith- jeweller — A silver chain — System of payment — 
Wild mangoes — Gold and gold craze. 

That my recollections of The Wynad are not all pleasant 
will be understood when I mention that it was at Mananta- 
vadi that I first learned by personal experience the meaning 
of fever and ague. 

At that time the place had an evil and well-deserved 
reputation for malaria, the reason for which was not far 
to seek. Swamps abounded ; there was one to every hill ; 
but when we took up our abode there F. was not long in 
having ours drained by planting it with health-breathing 
eucalyptus, the spongy roots of which act as suckers and 
do the work thoroughly. By degrees other swamps were 
similarly treated, and a different state of things introduced. 
On the first day of clearing our place, by way of an inaugura- 
tion scene, a huge boar, whose lair it was, caused some 
commotion ; but in the end he got the worst of it. Presently 
on the site of the noisome swamp a garden was made, and 
the waters were utilised by directing them into channels 
to be stored against the hot, rainless months. More than 
a mere garden, this developed into the ' Horticultural 
Experimental Gardens/ where all manner of interesting 
things were done in the way of trials with foreign plants, 
flowers, and fruits. It was, indeed, a most comprehensive 
place — a nursery for many kinds of vegetables, rarities, and 
curiosities. 

The vanilla vines were especially absorbing. Quite a 



156 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

respectable quantity of perfectly cured beans grown here were 
sent, some to Madras, some home, by F. One point in their 
previous treatment I remember, namely, their being soaked 
in sweet oil to keep them moist, and to extract, while at the 
same time retaining, their distinctive, exquisite aroma. 

Tobacco, too, was there. The flowers of this Indian 
variety, unlike the original American stock, and the culti- 
vated English-garden plant, are quite small, and pink and 
white in colour ; not anything like so beautiful to look at, 
but fully as fragrant, so that our patch of them was a 
veritable joy. 

The experiment of cultivating this tobacco ended, as it 
was meant to do — in smoke ; for men who understood the 
work came from Trichinopoly to do the curing and rolling 
into cheroots x (here we did not call them cigars) after the 
manner of ' Trichies/ a sort which it takes a well-seasoned 
smoker to appreciate, as they are very strong. Trichies 
have a special shape of their own, being large and tapering, 
and cut off square at each end, and have a reed through 
them, which is supposed to make them ' draw ' better. 

Besides the work being all part of his profession, F. 
delighted in the garden, and was in it morning, noon, and 
night. One of his experiments had a rather curious develop- 
ment. 

The idea occurred to him of trying to acclimatise ipecacu- 
anha, 2 and having procured seedlings — no difficulties in such 
matters ever daunting him — he succeeded in rearing healthy 
plants. The experiment was carried out entirely on his own 
initiative, and he finally made a present of his results to the 
Indian Government, wrote a pamphlet stating that, in his 
opinion, the experiment would be an advantageous one to 
follow up, and gave full directions for the obtaining of seed- 
lings, their culture, and the sort of ground necessary for 

1 Anglicised form of Tamil word, shuruttu, a roll. 

2 South America is the natural habitat of this plant. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 157 

their growth ; in fact, all particulars according to his own 
procedure. 

Whether he received any acknowledgment at the time 
I forget; but a few months afterwards the Government, 
through its Forest Department, issued orders directing all 
Forest Officers to start upon the trial cultivation of ipecacu- 
anha forthwith, and forwarded to each a copy of my hus- 
band's pamphlet, with the comment that its most valuable 
contents and information were only lately to hand ; adding, 
moreover, that as an incentive to zeal on the part of the 
officers concerned, a reward would be assigned to the first 
man successful ! This communication was received in due 
course by F., who, though in the beginning he had very 
likely been vexed at the slighting notice taken of his action, 
had long forgotten it, and could now afford to laugh. He 
simply wrote up again, through his chief, the Conservator 
of Forests, claiming the ' valuable ' pamphlet as his own, 
and forwarding photographs of his plants, now thriving as 
established facts in the Experimental Garden. 

How this pamphlet came to be printed without his name 
at the bottom was a mystery then, and remained one — at 
any rate to us. No reward was forthcoming ; indeed, it 
would have been a somewhat nice question as to how to 
award it, F. being beforehand with them all, so the diffi- 
culty was got over by dropping the subject. 

A government, though composed of never so soaring 
intellects, can as a body be very dense sometimes. A 
ludicrous instance occurred when F. was once directed to 
further the cultivation of nutmegs rather than of mace — 
mace being the mesh-like coating surrounding the nutmeg ! 

Two other distinguishing features of the locality were 
pineapples and monkeys, and these were not so uncon- 
nected with each other as might at first sight appear. 

The wild pineapples were of a rough sort, though abun- 
dant ; quantities of them were therefore transplanted to 



158 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

the garden, and so treated — with elephant manure, among 
other things — as in two years' time quite to change their 
character. Such pineapples were never seen here before ; 
finer there could not be. They attained the height of ten 
and eleven inches, and were proportionately large round, 
with the filmiest rind and a honey-like sweetness and 
aroma. 

But for every one that we got for ourselves the monkeys 
got many, though they did not wait for any such details 
as ripening, wrenching the fruit off as soon as there was an 
inch or two of growth. At first we tried protecting with 
matting, but the monkeys saw the reason, and twisted all 
off together. Then we had a large wired enclosure made, 
and within it the pines came to exquisite fruition. We used 
to think we cemented a friendship or two by reason of those 
pines ! 

Guavas, too, were especially fine and abundant. It is 
impossible to describe a flavour accurately — no fruit is 
exactly like another — but in texture of peel and flesh a 
guava somewhat resembles a pear ; it is rather rough in 
grain, too, like some pears are ; the colour varies from pale 
or deep pink to yellow ; the same tree will bear slightly 
different coloured fruit, the size of a lemon and oval in shape 
when of a good kind. In all directions round Manantavadi 
were numerous abandoned coffee estates, and in past times 
these had been planted up with good graft guava trees, 
which went on bearing, the fruit being free to all. In some 
places they had absolutely run wild, their quality scarcely 
deteriorating at all, and the ground would in season be 
strewn with the lovely fruit, on which animals feasted 
unheeded, for the people had tired of it. No one was 
enterprising enough to start a guava- jelly factory, or their 
fortunes would have been made. To me the fragrance 
of an English petunia blossom is exactly like that of a ripe 
guava ; and I have heard others say the same. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 159 

Loquats were also common, now growing wild, though 
not originally so ; flavoured like a plum, they are a most 
delightful fruit, small and golden-tinted. 

Truly might it be said of parts of The Wynad, ' Tickle 
the land with a hoe and it laughs with a harvest/ Among 
many easily raised fruits and vegetables the creeping or 
ground tomato was one of the best. It is a native, but, like 
most plants, it well repays cultivation ; so a piece of our 
garden was devoted to this crop, which one special season 
promised to outdo itself. 

No particular watch was ever kept ; porcupines were the 
only likely thieves, and they were sure to help themselves 
by night — nor were they grudged a share ; but when the 
tomatoes began to colour the quantity seemed to diminish 
all of a sudden. This was noticeable several mornings 
running, so as a hint to pilferers a trap was set, all blame 
being laid on the porcupines ; indeed, nothing else was 
thought of, with their footprints distinctly visible in the 
weedless furrows. One night piercing yells were heard 
coming from the tomato patch. It was no porcupine at all, 
but a grey-haired old Kurumber, detained much against his 
will by the trap, which was clipped round his ankle. Nor 
was it the kind of night usually beloved of thieves, for the 
moon was high, lighting up everything clearly, and the man 
could be seen capering about even from the bungalow. He 
was released at once, and made to say how he got there, 
as we were struck by the curious absence of human foot- 
prints, except just where he had been stamping in his efforts 
to shake off the detaining trap, though there was a procession 
of the tiny marks we were accustomed to find. For answer 
the old rogue produced a porcupine's foot. We were begin- 
ning to understand, so as a penance he was bidden further 
to give us an exhibition of his mode of progress. Practice 
had made him perfect in it, for in spite of age he hopped 
along with agility, scratching over and obliterating every 



160 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

sign of his own tracks and imprinting others in a manner 
to deceive anybody. It can be well understood that moon- 
light was essential for such manoeuvres. A few Kurumbers 
who were wanted to give evidence in a thieving case had been 
brought to be safely housed in our compound pending the 
trial lest they should run away, and this old person was one 
of the ' credible witnesses/ As far, however, as he was 
concerned with our tomatoes F. let him go free, his bagful 
of spoils with him, just for his cleverness, and for exemplify- 
ing, as he had done to a nicety, the truth of a keen old 
proverb of his own land which says, ' There is shade under 
the lamp.' 

The Kurumbers were in our estimation the best all- 
round men amongst the jungle tribes with which we had 
to do ; they seemed to know what they were about more 
than most ; some could even be relied on to speak the truth. 
Consequently, as we employed them whenever they were 
available, we came to understand them well. If a man 
were especially good at anything he was almost bound to 
be a Kurumber ; on the same principle, from a certain 
thoroughness of character belonging to the tribe, if a 
Kurumber were a rogue he would be an extra smart one. 

Among the little company of the Kurumber witnesses 
temporarily thrown on our hands one man was a black- 
smith. These people are not indolent, so till their case 
should come on work was found for them in and about the 
Experimental Garden, and the blacksmith soon showed the 
quality of his muscle. What he lacked physically in other 
respects he made up by the strength of his arms, and it 
was a treat to see a native swing a hammer as he did. 
Wearing very little besides, he had round his waist a slender 
chain, not of links, but of fine wirework, as flexible as twine, 
and not much thicker ; this I at first took to be of steel, 
but it was in reality of silver, tarnished to blackness with 
use, and was probably never taken off. This chain was 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 161 

strung with any number of small implements, as well as 
grotesque charms, efficacious either in weaving spells round 
other people or averting theirs from the wearer. Besides 
these double-edged potencies, there was quite an Olympus 
of gods and goddesses — his ' little pieties,' to use a friend's 
expression. Some of them were of stone intricately carved, 
others only of burnt clay ; some all head, and others all 
stomach ; of the size only of a baby's finger, yet none so 
tiny but that it could be hideous to an unbiassed eye. 
Spurious ones of the kind can be bought anywhere for a 
few pice, demand regulating supply, but that these were out 
of reach I knew ; nor was it well to talk of them in the 
hearing of the deities — that, too, I knew, having been 
warned against doing so. But the chain itself was not so 
fenced about. We asked the man how he came by it, 
because I said I should like to get one exactly the same. 
The quick smile beamed all over his face, and his eyes shone 
like agates, as he declared with pride that he could make 
one for the Dursani that very day. Had he not made his 
own ? That he was not a mere blacksmith, but a silver- 
smith as well. For a man to be both was a novel idea ; 
the combination seemed incongruous ; but the view taken 
here was that metals were akin : if you understood one, you 
understood all. 

As my chain was to be a facsimile of his, the price could 
be ascertained then and there, and in a convincingly just 
fashion — simply its own weight in rupees plus the value of 
the working it, at so much to the rupee, according to a fixed 
scale. Thus two annas was the lowest rate ; for that one 
could expect only the very plainest work of all, such as in 
bangles without heads or knobs ; if with these and orna- 
mented, then the price would be much higher ; but one 
would always know exactly how much one would have to 
pay. The rate for this wirework chain was eight annas, 
so, as sixteen annas go to a rupee, the cost was soon arrived 

L 



162 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

at. I have forgotten what that was now, but it was very- 
little. Where fraud can come in with such a system of 
valuation I don't know — in the quality of the silver perhaps ; 
but for that, again, there are tests. 

These preliminaries settled, the man received the proper 
number of rupees, which he took to the local jeweller in the 
bazaar — that is, the native quarter in the town — not to buy 
silver wire, but to exchange the money for its weight in the 
wire — obviously simple, again. A peon was directed to go 
with him. I thought it seemed far from nice-minded for 
us to use such a point-blank precaution, making the poor 
fellow feel himself suspected, and I wished to have the order 
cancelled, but F. said that to do so would be to take half 
the man's pleasure away, for that his feelings ran more likely 
in quite another groove. Being given a peon for escort 
would go far towards publishing his errand, and so add 
lustre to his own name and that of his tribe generally. 
Not that he would be above making off with a handful of 
rupees at any other time — pluming himself, too, on con- 
triving it. 

The wire procured, and two rather massive silver hooks 
for the fastening, our blacksmith sat him down on the 
bungalow steps — this by our wish — and set to work. He 
began by choosing and unstringing one of the implements 
on his own chain. As regards shape, this might have been 
an ordinary and familiar crochet hook, but I never saw one 
so exquisitely delicate ; and it had need to be, for the wire 
was silken fine. With this his deft fingers formed a little 
circlet about half an inch in diameter, then he went on 
crocheting round and round till he had a stiff tube, about 
eight inches long, of the closest stitches imaginable. Next 
he fastened one of the hooks to the other end of the tube, 
and fixed the hook in a small vice borrowed from the bazaar 
jeweller, and began pulling steadily, slowly, and forcefully. 
It was wonderful to watch the tube as it gradually gave and 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 163 

stretched till it was about three feet long, when the operator 
stopped his pulling to ask if this were long enough, because 
he could make it a mere thread if desired. It suited me 
very well as it was, so there was nothing to do now but 
attach the second hook, and my chain was before my eyes, 
finished and without an inequality anywhere, so flawless 
was the wire and so evenly was it drawn. 

That same system of payment by giving weight for 
weight obtains in other things besides ornaments. For 
example, the big copper cauldron used for boiling the gram 
for the horses and bullocks gets battered and worn in the 
course of service. One day a splendid new one appears, 
and you are only asked to pay the difference in the weight 
of the two according to the then market rate of copper per 
seer, which, like other market rates, varies. Thus you get 
' new lamps for old ' quite to your satisfaction, and, depend 
upon it, to that of the coppersmith also. 

For cooking-utensils copper is now to a great extent 
superseded by enamel in European households in India, 
but there are generally to be found, and used in preference 
by the cook, some deep, handleless copper pans, which have 
to undergo a process of tin-lining every few weeks, or when- 
ever the copper begins to show through again. The Tamil 
word for this re-lining is kalai-mg. The kalai-moxi knows 
that before he is paid his work will be put to the rag test ; 
that is to say, he will have to rub round the insides of the 
pans with a bit of white rag, and if it becomes blackened 
it proves that his tin was half lead. 

Wild mango trees flourished in The Wynad — groves and 
avenues of them. We once took a journey in the blazing 
hot weather along a road near Minnengadi where the travel- 
ling was shady and delightful under their heavy foliage, a 
journey that could not have been attempted in the open 
— five miles of it, and every yard dim and cool. As to the 
mangoes, it was the season for them ; they were dead ripe 



164 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

and delicious. We picked them off the boughs as we rode 
slowly along. All were equally luscious, the size of small 
plums, and not more than a mouthful each, any of them. 
The animals — bullocks and horses — too were made happy, 
for we halted while they enjoyed a leisurely feast ; in fact, 
one and all enjoyed that day to the utmost. Moreover, 
not to miss such an opportunity, a great basketful was 
conveyed home, to be turned into a hot-weather drink on 
arrival. 

Yet, though we made that journey many times, never 
again did we eat of the mangoes ; nor did we ever like to 
recall that one occasion ! 

Nothing further was done with the fruit that night, but 
the next morning the cook, looking rather queer, came and 
asked us to inspect it. He had begun crushing it to express 
the juice, but could not go on, for he found it was seething 
with grubs ! It was a horrifying revelation ; in our greedi- 
ness we had swallowed the mangoes eagerly, without ques- 
tion, and almost without looking at them ; but now the 
bare recollection of that feast was revolting, and it has hardly 
yet lost the edge of its unpleasantness. 

I suppose I should be guilty of omitting what is, or was, 
generally considered the most important feature of The 
Wynad district were I not to make at least honourable 
mention of the gold found there. 

It has been suggested that this region is the Ophir of the 
Bible, and gold undoubtedly exists in its river-beds and in the 
heart of its quartz hills. For ages past certain expert tribes 
— notably the Kurumbers — have gathered a living, albeit a 
meagre one, out of the river sand, which they wash exhaus- 
tively in wooden ' cradles ' shaped like English butchers' 
baskets, rinsing and swilling, and peering closely as less and 
less of the worthless sand remains. Hardly a cradleful but 
rewards them with its particles of red gold, which stay 
behind in the residue owing to its weight. Nevertheless, it 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 165 

yields a scanty profit to the finders compared with the day- 
long labour involved in searching for it — so scanty, indeed, 
that Europeans concern themselves with the matter not at 
all, or perhaps I should say rather with those methods. 
One day, however, a worn-out coffee estate, planted up 
on a precipitous rocky hillside on account of the owner's 
lack of funds or judgment to buy a better site, and now, 
almost denuded of soil, yielding him but a bare bread-and- 
cheese subsistence, was found quite accidentally to be a 
veritable gold-mine. This occurred when blasting for the 
making of a new road was going on. That the estate was 
subsequently sold for a fabulous sum I know for a fact, 
and also that the discovery was only the first of a series. 
On the other hand, in many more instances than all these 
put together, flourishing estates were mined and under- 
mined, and the entire surface, if rocky, blasted and 
destroyed, only to reveal the thinnest vein of gold, and 
perhaps never another. Tons of quartz were crushed by 
means of expensive machinery, and but a few pennyweights 
of gold to show as the result. Thousands of pounds were 
spent in this way, and rich men brought to poverty. 

I myself possess to this day the mining rights over a quite 
respectable area. It came about thus. Some ground was 
about to be cleared and opened up for cultivation. In the 
way were some rocks which had to be removed ; therefore 
dynamite was brought for blasting them, and the China- 
men to do it. No men so handy or so daring for such a 
job ; they seemed to delight in it for the sheer danger's 
sake, having to be forcibly prevented from lying down at 
the very end of the fuse ! 

I liked to watch what was being done, and after one 
explosion, on pulling up a tuft of grass from a cleft in the 
riven rock, I actually found two or three specks of gold 
adhering to the roots ! 

That was the beginning of it with us. The mining rights 



166 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

over the land were acquired, not by my husband — he, as 
a Government servant, being prohibited from engaging in 
any commercial pursuits — but through others for me, and 
not by any means for a ' mere song.' The reef was called 
after me, and before long operations were in full swing. 
Machinery for crushing was procured ; ' experts ' voyaged 
from England to report on the percentage of gold ; shafts 
were sunk, and gold was found ; but for the pounds dropped 
into that ground not as many pence came out of it ! 

After a time the craze died out, but not till many had 
speculated with their all. Estates were re-opened, and by 
degrees The Wynad again prospered under the slightly 
humdrum but pretty even sway of ' King Coffee.' 



** 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 167 



CHAPTER XV 

The wet season in The Wyn&d and Malabar — Land wind — Dinah — Pintu 
— Punch — Scenery of the west coast — Native houses — Government 
monopolies — Sardines — Pearl fisheries — Cliff bees — The apiary at 
Manantavadi — Silk-cotton — Varying climates of India. 

On or about the 3rd of June was the time for the monsoon 
to break, sometimes heralded by a grand storm, at others 
beginning gently, with soft showers hardly to be recognised 
for the longingly expected rains ; then for six months, 
though not always raining, it was so frightfully damp that 
one's piano (if one were lucky enough to have one), book- 
cases, wardrobes (always called almirahs), had to be fitted 
with tin pipes through them, with an outlet at the top, while 
at the lower end, on the ground, burnt small oil lamps never 
allowed to go out. In no other way could anything be saved 
at all. 

Nearer the coast, and on sea-level, the fearful heat and 
damp of the rainy season tell on the health of Europeans 
in a far more trying way than would a dry, even if higher, 
temperature. 

We were eight years on the coast ; not right through, of 
course — no one could have weathered such an unbroken 
spell — but for most of the time. On first going there I 
was possessed of a quite respectable singing voice, after 
an amateur fashion, but in a short time it went, never to 
be recovered, so relaxing was the atmosphere. That it 
was not unusual for throat and chest to be so affected in 
that climate I learned from other instances. 

Furniture had to be specially constructed to suit the 
climate, tables, couches, chairs, etc., being put together 



168 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

with bamboo pegs instead of glue and nails ; the one would 
dissolve and the others rust. The carpenters and joiners 
in this part of India — at Palghat especially — are famous 
for their neat and beautiful work, and are in great request 
elsewhere. On the coast bamboo pegs are also used in lieu 
of nails in the making of small vessels and boats. 

The rest of the year is as destructively dry. During the 
hot weather a land wind blows at fixed hours in the day ; 
an altogether detestable wind, to which all who can do so 
avoid exposing themselves. Book-covers and paper-knives 
jnay be seen to curl up if it play on them, and curl back 
again into place if turned round, apparently none the 
worse. The effect on animals is equally marked ; bullocks, 
horses, cows, etc., tethered to graze outside, if exposed to 
it are liable to get what is called ' a stroke of the land wind/ 
It completely and sometimes permanently paralyses the 
hind quarters or spine. The animals themselves have the 
sense to keep out of it, given the chance. 

One of our dogs met with this crippling accident, never 
quite recovering, though she did not suffer beyond the 
liability to fall over if pushed in any way by the others. It 
taught her to keep near human beings who would help her 
up if she did so fall. Ever after her mishap this dog, 
Dinah, took her stand beside the dog-boy, for him to support 
her while she fed. This boy was a born trainer and lover 
of animals ; he had, of his own accord, instituted the habit 
of washing the faces of those dogs who liked to be in and out 
of the house ; they learned to come at his call to be made 
nice. His patience had no limits, and the endless tricks 
he taught his charges were only by means of repetition and 
rewards. He never left an ailing dog night or day — ate 
and slept with them if allowed to do so. 

People who make friends of their animals in sickness and 
in health must most of them have spent nights in the stable ; 
my husband and I have done so many a time ; but that kind 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 169 

of feeling towards animals is not to be bought, nor is it 
common with hired servants. 

Pintu was a Eurasian, with the native predominating 
in Mm, and he preferred to live as one. Kim — that strange 
and beautiful book by Rudyard Kipling — was yet to come, 
but on reading it I knew that it was true to life, for our dog- 
boy Pintu might have stood for the original. He came 
without a ' written character,' and had never worked steadily 
before ; had done odd jobs in a military cantonment at quite 
a distance from us, so how he existed on his weary tramp 
it was hard to say. With him was a ' pie ' 1 dog — a very 
mongrel — of his own. He walked up to us, and without 
introducing himself further, said that he could not get 
enough to keep them both ; that he had heard the Doray 
did not mind how many dogs he had ; might this one of 
his have his food with ours if he worked about the place % 
The 'pie' was fairly flourishing, and stood looking at *us 
and wagging his tail, as if pleading for both of them", but 
the boy looked as if he and hunger were not \ unacquaint.' 
Of course, the couple were installed, and Pintu's talents 
very soon came out. From the first every dog of ours 
adopted him, even some rather exclusive ones among them 
— his ' pie,' too, after a short probation. It was nothing 
short of magnetism that did it, for he had the same caressing 
hand with the horses, whom he made follow and whinny 
after him. 

The shikar expeditions were somewhat of a trial to Pintu, 
as he never could bear any of his charges to be exposed to 
the risks involved, preferring to keep them all under his own 
eye, and even inventing ailments for them to that end ; 
whereas the dogs themselves were never happier than when 
in the thick of it all. A year or two later, when Punch, 
a much-beloved member of the pack, was carried off by a 
panther almost under our very eyes — though no one actually 

1 'Pie,' contraction of 'pariah,' i.e. homeless, ownerless. 



170 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

saw it happen — Pintu's agony of grief made him quite ill. 
Lucky for him, the curses he invoked on his own head were 
unheard except by us. He also cursed every female ancestor 
of that panther's in several languages in a way that made 
F., who understood, almost laugh, though we were both 
nearer crying. Punch was a short-legged, stodgy dog, 
who never wanted to run off, and was as contented on the 
lead as free. The consequence was that he was very often 
allowed to walk amongst the rest loose. Neither did he lag 
behind. He was an all-round good little person, and as game 
as the best when wanted. For porcupines he had not his 
equal ; many a time did he come backwards out of an 
1 earth ' to have the quills pulled out of his body by the 
dozen, only to dart in again immediately — insensible to 
pain when there was any sport in the air. I have said that 
he never lagged behind, but he must have done so that 
once ; for all anybody knew was that a choking cry was 
heard, then a rush through the jungle, Punch missing, and 
every other dog gone frantic. I shall never forget the 
misery of that search for him, only to pick up his broken 
collar, and find a few patches of yellow and black hair 
on the bushes — nothing more. It saddened the whole trip 
for us far more than his loss in some shikar tussle would 
have done, for that would only have been one of the chances 
of war. 

From the day when Pintu, the poor vagrant boy, entered 
our service there was never again any need to wonder or 
worry as to whether the creatures on the premises were 
thirsty and unable to reach water, or whether their tethering 
ropes were twisted. He hovered everywhere, not in any 
spirit of spying on others and their duties, but from the 
sheer love in him for all living, speechless things. 

We never met with that nature in any other Eurasian, 
or in any native. He was with us for years, seeing many 
generations of dogs, his own growing grey the while ; leaving 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 171 

us only on taking to himself a wife, and so being unable to 
follow our fortunes when we were transferred to another 
district. Sorry enough to bid Pintu ' good-bye,' we did not 
lose sight of him, but kept a guardian eye on him and his 
thereafter. 

Most Europeans prefer having out-and-out natives to 
deal with rather than half-castes, who are generally Portu- 
guese half-breeds. The women are sometimes very lovely 
after a mulatto fashion, and so fair that the dark blood is 
hardly discernible, though their children, again, might be 
almost like pure natives. With but few exceptions, they are 
Roman Catholics. They speak English in a way of their 
own (commonly called ' chee-chee '), or French if they belong 
to any of the French settlements — Pondicherry, Chander- 
nagore, etc. 

Notwithstanding its bad reputation in parts for malarial 
fever, also for other complaints and discomforts of sorts 
peculiar to itself, people who know both coasts prefer living 
on the west. For one thing, it is so beautiful I — always 
green, the shore being fringed with cocoanut palms, some 
of them actually growing right out into the sea. Another 
point which contributes to the pleasing effect of the scenery 
is the terra-cotta colour of the people's dwellings. They are 
built of laterite, a rather soft and easily worked stone, 
which, being quarried in the country, is the building material 
almost universally used among the natives in this part of 
India. Most picturesque do these homes look, set in the 
green foliage of the gardens, every house having its own 
cultivated plot of plantain trees and palms. Conspicuous 
among the latter is the gigantic talipot, 1 not gigantic as to 
height — for the stem is very short and thick — but the tough, 
substantial leaves are so enormous that a few suffice for the 
thatching of a house of medium size. Narrow verandahs 
surround each house, and if the windows are barred it is 

1 Indian name for Corypha umbraculiferae. 



172 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

only for the safeguarding of property, the owners sleeping 
in the verandah. 

A very curious and ingenious method of building, of which 
I saw several instances in progress, is sometimes employed 
by these people, instead of making bricks or availing them- 
selves of the quarried laterite just mentioned. It consists 
in the use of a composition of earth, clay, and shell mixed 
with water and blood — to bind it ; this is put into oblong 
wooden frames, two feet long and eight inches deep and 
wide, which when packed are wedged tight by means of 
iron clamps. After the mass has become firm the framework 
is removed from round it, and it is then dried in the sun. 
The houses constructed of these blocks are very quickly 
ready, and are quite durable. If the building be in a great 
hurry much larger frames are used ; the important point 
is that the drying be thorough. 

Salt is so generally considered harmful to vegetable life 
that when I mentioned the fact of cocoanut palms growing 
in the sea, I ought to have added that they are more luxuriant 
on coasts than elsewhere, sometimes attaining a height of 
eighty feet, and loving a sandy soil ; indeed, to succeed at 
all, these palms must at the beginning be watered with 
brine, and that is a hard matter for inland people to com- 
pass. Some of the poorest depend entirely upon their cocoa- 
nut crop for a living, so it is more than a mere grievance 
that salt should be the strictly guarded Government mon- 
opoly that it is. The people are not even suffered to collect 
by evaporation the small quantity of sea-salt that would 
suffice for their personal needs and for the cultivation of 
their plot of ground — they must buy all they want ! One 
would imagine that, however much salt were taken from 
the sea, plenty more would remain behind ; but that is not 
the Government point of view, and the arm of its Salt 
Department has a very long reach and a powerful hold. 
It is no use at all for the people to assert what might be 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 173 

regarded as their positive rights in the matter. However, 
if cases of salt-filching came under his notice, as would some- 
times happen, living so constantly on the spot as he did, 
my husband was often blind to them. 

There was the same rigour with regard to bamboos. 
A Government permit from the Forest Department was 
obligatory before a villager, one of those too poor to buy, 
could run up a hut for himself or repair his old one — burnt, 
perhaps, or blown down in a storm. He might possibly 
have to tramp many miles to obtain this permit, but if it 
were not forthcoming when he applied for his bamboos 
he would have his journey for naught ; or if he dared to 
help himself secretly, some lynx-eyed observer was certain 
to pounce down upon him, and he would be fined — heavily 
enough, too, for one possessing so little. But as these 
permits were all in F/s hands in his own district — nothing 
of forest produce being free — he took care to make them 
pretty comprehensive, in various ways seeing to it that the 
people did not suffer all they might have done from the 
tyranny of a horde of underlings levying tolls on their own 
account, thereby to eke out their salaries. 

Commend me to a native for being hard on a native, and 
the lower class of Eurasian is as bad ; it is from these that 
the petty officials of the Forest, Salt, Police, Survey, and 
other Departments are recruited. Very much, therefore, 
depends on the heads and their intimate knowledge of the 
people's customs and caste prejudices. They need be Argus- 
eyed, and should be devoid of fear and favouritism, but 
perhaps that is speaking too ideally. Happily, the high- 
ways of the sea and of the rivers are free ; I never heard of 
tolls being levied there, whether on the people's fishing or 
their craft. 

Unmanageably vast catches of sardines — the true, tiny 
sardines — are so common that they are laid upon the fields 
as manure. Highly odoriferous they are, too. The sardine 



174 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

is equally plentiful on the east coast. At Pondicherry they 
are cured and dressed in ground-nut oil, than which none 
purer nor sweeter could be used ; and this can be done cheaply 
enough to defy adulteration. These are for exportation to 
the mother country (France) ; and they are better appreci- 
ated there than they are in England, where people — the bulk 
of them — seem to like their sardines large, and preserved 
exclusively in Lucca or olive oil, so that they probably get 
very few genuine at all, their so-called ' sardines ' more 
likely being sprats. 

Of the constant but minor industries carried on all round 
the coasts, the pearl fisheries are worthy of mention. In 
our neighbourhood the native way of cleaning the pearls, 
after the shells had been opened by boiling, was curiously 
primitive but effective. The plan was to mix them with 
rice and grain, which was then thrown to the fowls — to a 
fowl rather, who picked up every pearl and seed without 
discriminating. In an hour or two's time the fowl was 
killed, and owing to the stomach's action the pearls would be 
found in it perfectly purified, white, and glistening. In 
some places on the east coast they open the shells by burn- 
ing, thereby, to our thinking, quite destroying the beauty 
and colour of the pearls within. Only the very poor engage 
in this industry ; for, though most laborious, it scarcely 
repays the toil expended on it, and ropes of the tiny seed 
pearls, with dozens of strands, are to be bought for a very 
small sum. The richer natives use them lavishly on their 
attire, having their sleeveless velvet coats, their slippers, 
and belts heavily embroidered with the pearls in masses, 
while their caps, constantly worn, may be adorned with the 
loveliest pearl tassels without attracting attention amongst 
their own countrymen. 

The fisher-folk — Catamarans as they are called, after their 
boats, so named — of the Madras beach are said to belong 
to a very low order of humanity, but I must own I noticed 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 175 

nothing special about them ; to me they seemed much of 
a muchness with the rest of their class. 

As I have already stated, everything in the way of forest 
produce was a Government monopoly. One item — a valu- 
able one — was very hard to obtain, namely, rock-honey. 
Only one tribe in our district — the Jain Kurumbers — dared 
to adventure themselves on this quest. These men would 
climb anywhere, and would face the angry bees fearlessly, 
being inured to and immune from stings. Rock or cliff- 
bees are many times larger than ordinary ones, and are 
proportionately vicious when annoyed. One thing in 
particular they will not stand — the faintest suspicion of 
tobacco smoke. It is their usual habit to build in the 
clefts and crannies of almost inaccessible cliffs, where few 
can rob them. Sometimes, however, they choose lofty 
trees for their domicile. Once, when passing through the 
forest with his men, F., who was on in front, heard a buzzing 
overhead, and quickly turned back to warn them, but it was 
too late. Some one was smoking, and the bees had already 
perceived it ; down they came in clouds, roused and en- 
raged. The men might run, and some did, but they could 
not hope to outdistance the bees, who actually pursued them 
for fully five miles, tiring only a short distance from camp, 
where there would have been trouble among the bullocks 
and horses if they had come on. F. and some others of the 
party were heedless of bee-sting ; though attacked, they 
felt no discomfort, and no signs of swelling followed ; nothing 
was to be seen but a few red spots on his hands and whitish 
ones here and there on the dark skin of the natives. Of 
this select few not a man even hurried himself, whereas 
the others arrived in camp dropping from exhaustion. 
With but half a yard at most of covering about them, the 
poor creatures had been exposed from head to foot to the 
onslaught of the terrible bees ; their bodies were swollen 
all over in the most distressing way, and their faces were so 



176 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

disfigured as to look scarcely human. Indeed, into such 
eccentric shapes and to such size had the swelling brought 
them that it was only by dwelling on their sufferings that 
I could look at them gravely. One, whose gargoyle-like face 
was too much for my politeness, instead of seeming hurt 
and hiding away, smiled back at me so good-humouredly that 
I felt cut to the heart ; but I made ample amends with a 
rupee and some tobacco, which he took, laughing crookedly, 
and saying that that had been the cause of their mis- 
fortune and was now their comfort ! Every man of them 
was given unstinted comfort of that sort, and we did all we 
could think of to alleviate their pain, which, however, had 
all passed off by morning, though some of the sufferers 
had looked ready to die at first. 

Why some people are quite unaffected is a mystery. The 
bees alighted and seemed to use their stings just as viciously 
upon my husband and the men who were invulnerable like 
himself as they did upon the others ; they merely removed 
them, and thought no more about it. 

A flock of sheep in which we had a share of interest 
was once attacked by cliff-bees. They were ' club ' sheep, 
maintained by the members and apportioned weekly, a 
notice being sent round and initials being set to whatever 
joint of the animal to be killed was desired by each, and 
selected strictly in turn. The herdsman fled, nor could he 
have bettered matters by stopping to be stung himself. 
At the moment the flock was crossing a bund. 1 Some of 
the sheep, trying to escape, took to the water ; most of 
these were drowned, but a few afterwards revived. Not 
one of those stung recovered. We knew several instances of 
horses meeting their death in the same way, never a one 
being saved if attacked by these bees. They are not fond 
of great heat, and great cold kills them ; but The Wynad 

1 A sort of causeway through water, and built up of earth, either just wide 
enough to walk over dryshod, or for vehicles. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 177 

and similar districts, with a medium climate, are stocked 
with them — the wilder parts, that is, for they dislike dis- 
turbances, and seek for solitary and secret places in which 
to establish themselves. Nevertheless, the keen eyes and 
noses of their spoilers, the Jain Kurumbers, can ferret them 
out. 

The honey of cliff -bees is rather strongly flavoured. I did 
not care to eat much of it myself, but it is in great request 
amongst the natives, who use large quantities of it for their 
sweetmeats ; also in medicines, in which it is of great ser- 
vice, answering all the purposes of castor-oil and kindred 
wholesome nastinesses. However, native tastes differ from 
ours in many respects. 

The honey when collected was brought to our house 
carried in great pots on men's heads, to be measured out 
and despatched by cart to its market, or sold locally by 
tender. To see the men come in at their usual half-run, 
half-walk ; panting, heated, and dusty, with the viscid 
honey trickling down their shining faces and spare bodies 
from the overfilled pots — perhaps purposely so, to ensure 
refreshment — was not a pleasing spectacle. On arrival, 
down they squatted all in a row, relieved of their burdens, 
and free to set to work cleaning themselves. This they did 
much after the manner of flies, as any one who has watched 
the operations of a fly rescued out of a jam-pot would say, 
wiping off the honey with their fingers, and sucking away 
at them with evident enjoyment. Wash it off ? No, 
indeed ! That were a waste not to be thought of ! 

An apiary, as much as possible on English lines, was one 
of the things started by F. at Manantavadi, but the honey 
always tasted different from English honey, owing to the 
flowers the bees found being different from the home sorts. 
He was much more intimate with his bees than I could ever 
be, as he had nothing to fear from them. A highly comical 
set of trials were made among some would-be bee attendants 

M 



178 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

to ascertain who was, and who was not gifted with the like 
immunity. No hardship or cruelty was involved in these 
trials, as no one was obliged to enter the lists. The office 
was to be well paid, and the men were willing to have a try, 
the accidents that occurred before the final settlement 
being salved with a few annas. 

F. had not always been immune himself. When he first 
took to meddling with bees he used to be badly stung, but 
bore it and persisted, so that in course of time his system 
became so used to the formic acid as to be unaffected by 
it. Some people never feel any effects at all, and in the end 
he got to be like them, lapse of years even making no 
difference. The same acid is present in ants. 

Soon after the apiary was made a friend came to stay 
with us who took an intelligent interest in all we had to 
show, and who, though not long out from home, pleased us 
the more as a guest that she was not over-fussy about 
snakes, as most new-comers are apt to be, so she was invited 
to come down into the garden and have a look at the apiary, 
now in exhibition trim. 

As we were walking thither she said to me that she 
wondered we ' wanted to keep things like that when there 
were so many wild ones ' ; besides, she thought it was 
' rather cruel, if they could see and hear others round them 
free. 5 F. was ahead of us, and if he heard her remarks he 
took no notice. Presently we came to the enclosure, which 
was coarsely gravelled to discourage snakes from attempt- 
ing to get at the honey, thus scaring the bees, and incidentally 
getting infinite damage themselves from their stings. Here 
stood in orderly row five or six hives, their doorways dark 
with bees, and the air thick with the numbers that circled 
all around — we two keeping out of range, and F. acting as 
showman inside the enclosure. Looking at them straight 
in front of her, ' I don't see any,' said our friend ; and upon 
my husband's asking her what she had expected to see, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 179 

1 Apes,' was the reply, and the expression of his face told 
me that he knew it ! 

If the bringing in of wild honey was somewhat unpleasant 
to watch, other items of forest work were prettier, notably 
the collecting of silk-cotton, as it is called, a silky substance 
attached to the seeds of the Bombax indica, a magnificent 
forest tree, soft-wooded, with glossy green leaves and 
blossoms of pale primrose. Lovely stuff it is, like floss 
silk itself. I have cushions now filled with my own gather- 
ing. This cotton is in exhaustless demand, and is therefore 
one of the most valuable products of the low-country forests, 
where at the proper season the ground is covered with the 
bursting seed-pods, scattering their snow in all directions. 

The native method of teasing the cotton out after husking 
is simple enough, and thoroughly effectual. It is bundled 
loosely into closely-woven wicker baskets the shape of a 
hen-coop, and some five or six feet across. At the top is 
a small aperture just large enough to work a stick about 
when inserted. The stick, which has two cross-bits at the 
lower end, is twirled rapidly between the hands so that the 
movement sends the cotton flying, loosening every curl — 
the cotton is very short — while none can escape. For 
mattresses to be taken to pieces and their stuffing fluffed 
out in this way and made up again occasionally is quite a 
usual practice — where mattresses are used at all, that is ; 
for in some places a very fine description of grass mat laid 
upon the wire spring, a thick rug being thrown over the 
latter, was the most comfortable, because the coolest, bed 
of any. Pillow-cases of grass matting were very delightful 
too ; I will not call them luxuries, for they were a necessity 
if any sleep was to be obtained. They afforded a sense of 
refreshment even in the most exhausting weather, when a 
wet bath-towel had to be pinned to the already low-hanging 
punkah to wave within a few inches of one's face ; but the 
towel did not keep damp very long. Of course, there is 



180 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

always a garden one could sleep in, but I preferred the house- 
top, as out of the way of snakes and the troops of noisy 
jackals which were quite likely to race past one's bed ; not 
that they would interfere with one in any way, only they 
were disturbing. On the roof one could slumber in peace, 
but a thick blanket to catch the heavy night dews had to be 
laid on the mosquito-net frame overhead. The blanket would 
be wringing wet by morning. (As I write this I am thinking 
specially of nights in the Deccan, and also in Coimbatore.) 

An India of oppressive heat is the only one that people 
who know nothing about it picture to themselves. My 
own experience of that kind of India, where one could 
scarcely breathe with a roof over one's head at night, was 
slight, extending only over a few years ; while I can cer- 
tainly say that I have known breathless, sultry August 
nights in our temperate climate of England which were 
quite as trying. For in India, though the temperature is 
higher, everything that makes for coolness is studied, no 
end of appliances to minimise discomfort being within the 
reach of those with very moderate means. 

Off and on, I stayed a good deal where eleven or twelve 
degrees of frost, and even more, were common ; where linen 
and prints were only for the hot weather ; serges and furs 
being needed for the cold ; where fireplaces were the rule 
in every room, and the supply of peat and logs — coal we had 
not — important items in household bills ; and where the life 
is in many respects very English as to climate and clothing 
and occupations. This was in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern 
India, at an elevation of some seven thousand feet ; and 
Northern India has her Himalayas, the region of eternal 
snows — called the Snowy Range. 

The truth is, India is so vast. She has many widely 
diverse climates, in far-reaching tracts, where neither palm 
trees, nor sand, nor elephants are to be seen — the typical 
features in imaginary pictures. 




Road to the Nii.giri Hills. 



A. T. 11'. Penn, Photo. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 181 



CHAPTER XVI 

The first coming of ' The Lady ' — Captain H. and his pet aversion — His 
conversion by Tim — Fright with a snake — Grass fires — Caterpillars 
and fishing-lines — Silk moths — Trials of silk-culture — And success. 

Not one of our tours but was marked by its own special 
incidents, pleasurable or the reverse, sometimes even 
momentous, as when dog Punch, who left home so gaily, 
never returned. Another and happier one, bringing gain 
instead of loss, was when we brought back a still craven- 
looking pariah dog who turned out to be worth almost any 
other two of ours put together, for the true sporting instinct 
that was found in her, only needing to be called out. She 
displayed an obedience, too, not to be surpassed that 
followed speedily on finding her unowned, homeless self 
provided with both home and master ; and a certain direct- 
ness of demeanour soon took the place of the cringing, 
deprecating air, as though apologising for her existence, 
which had been her nearest approach to friendship at the 
beginning of our acquaintance. A very poor thing indeed 
she was when first espied creeping about on the fringe of our 
camp, just within sight and sniff of the dogs' fragrant 
supper, not expecting to be given any of that, however, 
and on the watch to dodge any missile that might be hurled 
at her, that being about all she was used to receive unsought, 
by the look of her cavernous ribs. A meaty bone first in- 
spired a touch of courage, and day by day she approached 
nearer, till a civilised tinful could be placed for her accept- 
ance. That was how ' The Lady,' as she came to be called 
from her gentleness, entered our family ; a gentleness quite 
apart from the craven bearing of fear — the more craven 



182 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

the more spiteful, mostly — born of ill-usage. Some of these 
pariah dogs, running wild everywhere, are of the finest 
natures and finest tempers possible, though how they come 
by them is a wonder, for they are usually ' against every 
man ' as ' every man's hand is ' as surely ' against them/ 
Several of our best-prized dogs had been strays. 

A man we knew, an Englishman too, had a very un- 
English aversion to dogs. He said they always growled 
at him ; nor was he ashamed to own it, like most people 
would be, as arguing something amiss in themselves. Hav- 
ing lived through a good half of his life in this frame of 
mind, one fine day he with crowds of others was watching 
a polo match. How it came on to the ground nobody 
knew, but a very ragged, mangy specimen of a ' pie ' dog 
did creep up — led by who can say what instinct ? — to that 
man of all others, and put its muzzle into the hand hanging 
at his side as though it were that of a friend. Instead of 
starting away with uplifted cane, Captain H., as he told us 
and others afterwards, felt a sensation of pleasure hitherto 
unknown spring to life in his mind at the confidence placed 
in him. For the first time in his life he was sought and 
trusted by a dog ; no other had ever done that. He and 
his aversion were widely known, and those who watched 
the scene found it even more interesting than polo. This 
dog did not flinch at the expression in his eyes, usually cold, 
if not angry, when looking at anything in dog shape ; it 
did not growl nor show its teeth, only stood its ground, and 
was patted by the unaccustomed hand till its tail wagged 
again ! That dog would not know it was unwelcome, nor 
was it. When the match was over it followed Captain H., 
who whistled to it like any other man to any other dog, 
and many eyes watched the incongruous pair, for the man 
was one of the best groomed to be seen anywhere, and the 
dog one of the most unkempt ! 

Even in things pathetic the comic touch comes in. An 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 183 

ordinary leather collar was not good enough for this dog, and 
a pure silver one was made for it, with the adopted master's 
name and regiment engraved thereon. In the chill of early 
morning, when taking exercise with his horses, it wore a 
coat of dark blue and white like theirs, with the letters 
* H. H.' embroidered in one corner ; and the coat wrapped 
a sleek body now, not to be known for the same. From the 
first ' Tim/ as he was named, took up his sleeping quarters 
at Captain H.'s feet, whence he could never be dislodged, 
and he was as his shadow by day. When a year's furlough 
became due the pair of them went home ; there was never 
any idea of aught else. The best of it all was that a com- 
plete and mutual change of front was thus brought about 
between the dogs and Captain H., for they ceased to growl 
at him now that what had repelled them in him was gone. 
As for him, he became a thorough-going dog-lover — all 
Tim's doing ; nor could he now understand his former atti- 
tude towards dogs, the only explanation of the change being 
that Tim was the only dog who had ever unmistakably 
seemed to want his friendship. Truly, Tim stood for more 
than a mere dog : he was an era in a man's soul. 

Of another tour one thing only stands out in clear relief 
before my memory's eye — my first, but not last, fright with 
a snake. 

Having travelled all night we had settled ourselves to 
rest during the heat of the day under a great shady clump 
of bamboos, with rugs and pillows spread about on the 
lovely green grass beneath. Such tempting retreats are 
apt to be snaky, and we ought to have hesitated. F. was 
tying flies, an art in which he was an adept, and I was lying 
back on my pillows reading, when the one under my head 
moved, as if pressed down without any movement on my 
part. Moreover, an earthy odour was noticeable, and I 
had heard what that odour generally betokened — a snake. 
Straining my eyes sideways and upwards, there, sure enough, 



184 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

I saw one on the pillow behind my head, and now gliding 
past it. It was a large one, too — so much I could make out 
— and my blood ran cold, but I managed to whisper, 
' Snake on pillow.' 

' Rubbish/ was the feeling reply ; but the next minute, 
very quietly, as was F.'s wont in a crisis, came, ' Rat- 
snake ; keep still/ To do that is the hardest thing of all 
at times ; however, to know that it was only a rat-snake 
was everything, and I could breathe freely. With a length 
of his rod F. directed the creature's course upwards into 
the clump, and it went swiftly enough, inoffensively drawing 
its six or seven feet of length after it. But such interrup- 
tions never upset one for very long, so after a look round 
we soon settled down again on the same spot, there being 
nothing against it when the unwelcome intruder was gone. 

One form of excitement which I did not enjoy was a grass- 
fire blowing might and main our way. This happened acci- 
dentally sometimes, for when the grass and scrub were very 
parched they were apt to catch alight in a storm. At 
other times danger arose from the wind veering unexpectedly, 
when the fire had been kindled on purpose. It was usual 
just before the rains to burn the old dry grass that the new 
blades might spring up more quickly, so affording fresh 
pasturage for the flocks of goats that had to be taken miles 
in the hot weather in search of something to keep life in 
them. 

The way to fight an approaching fire was to meet it with 
its own weapon, by starting another at a safe distance from 
camp, and sometimes almost girdling it, according to the 
wind. A sufficiently broad belt was thus made, on reaching 
which there was nothing left for the original fire to feed on, 
so it died out of necessity. But it was fierce work. One 
day, when happily there was very little wind, we discovered 
that a fire — how caused no one knew — was licking its way 
very slowly, but much too surely, towards the camp. We 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 185 

knew that only a few of the servants were about there ; 
neither could they see the fire on account of an intervening 
hillock. There was no time to be lost, so we raced thither 
and set to work. Every one knew exactly what to do, and 
all worked as one man, with one definite object — to defeat 
the enemy. Fine sweeps they looked when all was done, 
F. being as black as the rest. A little feast had been well 
earned by the men, and they got it — extra dried fish and 
tobacco and grog. 

On one such occasion there was some added merriment 
in jeering at the cook for his share in the work. He had so 
lost his head as to pick up a flaming bunch of grass and throw 
it upon the thatch of the hut I was standing in, watching 
the scene. He was advised to get away and hide, but he 
pulled himself together and did yeoman's service afterwards. 
Beyond the hole burnt in the thatch no damage was done 
anywhere ; nor did we ever suffer serious loss from this cause 
at any time, so smartly and judiciously were things managed. 

That tours should be undertaken for special purposes was 
natural and a matter of course, shikar being merely inci- 
dental. The object was generally to start some new project 
or produce, or to gather in some established one, of which, 
as usual, Government held the monopoly. One tour, how- 
ever, was made for the express and only purpose — we being 
on leave, and spending it on our favourite Brahmagiris — 
of collecting what even Government did not claim, nor, as 
far as I know, any one ever want up to then, namely, 
caterpillars, F. having discovered a particularly large hairy 
sort, the intestines of which were especially adapted for the 
making of fishing-lines. Collected they were by basketfuls, 
and several men's loads (of about fifty pounds weight each) 
were brought in and killed instantaneously by being dropped 
into boiling vinegar. This was the process : when cold the 
bodies were cut open and the intestinal canal — a mere 
thread — removed, washed, and afterwards stretched and 



186 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

dried. Dyed they were, too, for use in waters of varying 
colour, the lengths being most neatly joined. 

That much I was told, but it never occurred to me to 
inquire where or in what vessels the boiling was done. I 
did not want to see it, the thought of it was horrid enough, 
but it so happened one day that I did see accidentally, and, 

horror ! on several fires in the kitchen were as many 
saucepans and pots all a-simmer with caterpillars stewing 
in vinegar — the saucepans and pots used for cooking our 
food in ! I said at once that I never could or should have 
them used for food again, and then learned that this was not 
the first time it had been done ; therefore I had already eaten 
several dinners cooked in the pots after the caterpillars. 

1 was told, moreover, that I had been none the worse for 
it ; the saucepans, being of tin-lined copper or iron, all 
could be easily scoured out. In fact, there was nothing 
that any one need mind about it ; the vinegar not being 
allowed to stand in the pots and pans, they took no harm. 
That that was a very material point, I knew. As to my 
objection to the use they had been put to, F. thought it 
was only fussy. Fortunately it chanced that we were 
expecting people to stay with us who were more likely to 
side with me than with him, so a fresh set was procured. 

Altogether, I thought dead caterpillars were trouble 
enough, but a time was at hand when living ones were to 
become the one engrossing subject, filling up every moment 
of my days, and also almost literally filling every crevice and 
chink in the house ; invading my very clothes even if 
they were left to hang for two days together uninspected. 

Inventors are generally dreadful trials to their families, 
and so sometimes are naturalists — as such. F/s idea was 
to naturalise, or acclimatise, valuable silk-moths in The 
Wynad, so establishing a new industry, and eventually a 
source of revenue. Cocoons of the Eria moth from Assam, 
the silk from which is of rare strength and beauty ; the 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 187 

tussore-silk moth, or Atlas, and others, were imported care- 
fully ; and trestle tables were provided all round the verandah 
for the accommodation of trays for the future progeny, so 
many at last being needed that narrow alleys between them 
was all the space that could be spared for the attendants, 
who had to move sideways. The new bungalow for the 
Forest Officer was built by then, and we were occupying it, 
or this experiment could not have been carried out, the old 
ramshackle, rat-snaky building before mentioned having 
been condemned on F.'s representing that it was only fit 
for the creatures it harboured. He had been allowed to send 
in his own plans, so the result was a very commodious 
bungalow (to our idea), with a garden adjoining. This was 
on the top of the hill. Below was the Experimental Garden 
already described. 

The new building contained four large rooms opening 
into each other, passages being rightly regarded as waste 
of space. There were dressing and bathrooms attached, 
and very wide verandahs all round the four sides, glazed 
in with a double-sliding arrangement, as affording better 
protection against, as well as offering less resistance to, the 
force of the monsoon. 

Nothing more beautiful can be imagined than those moths 
when they emerged from their chrysalis tombs and unfolded 
their crumpled and still damp wings. One, the Atlas moth, 
measured twelve inches across from tip to tip ; some speci- 
mens of this sort even more. They were of a soft fawn 
colour, and covered with down so long that it was almost 
feathery. In the four wings were what resembled little 
windows of a talc-like substance — as large as a threepenny 
bit in the larger wings — and so transparent that one could 
see clearly through them ! The hinder wings were extended 
into long delicate stems, something after the fashion of a 
peacock's tail plumage, ending in a claret-coloured 'eye.' 
Another moth had a snow-white body, thickly feathered, 



188 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

and as big as one's forefinger ; its wings were of the palest 
apple-green, also inset with the talc-like windows, and 
finished off with the stems like peacocks' feathers — they all 
had those. All were of enormous span, but the Atlas the 
greatest. 

The moths were all very well ; nobody minded them ; 
but there were too many — so our friends said. Their cocoons 
had filled several foot-square biscuit tins when packed ; then 
when they began to multiply, and the eggs hatched out into 
minute, wriggling life, the numbers were not to be guessed 
at except by those who have tried breeding them. News- 
paper trays, made by pinning up the corners to a height 
of some three inches, lined the tables ; no tray might stand 
upon another, obstructing air and light from the occupants. 
No ; fresh space must be found for them, whoever was 
squeezed out. 

As to their food, the wild mulberry flourished abundantly 
all over the district — a fact ascertained before this enter- 
prise was set on foot ; and other plants and leaves were 
equally relished, especially the castor-oil ; so we could rest 
assured that their sustenance would never run short, and 
could be varied. The collecting of it was a business, how- 
ever. Mere men were unequal to the task, so two carts 
and two pairs of bullocks were bought ; none too many 
either, for they had to go miles, as tree after tree, plant after 
plant was denuded. The villagers reaped a good harvest 
by selling us their castor-oil leaves, as every one grows these 
plants for the oil, which they use in lamps, also for feeding 
their babies and older children ; for feeding, not doctoring, 
the native bread and biscuit being dipped in the crude oil 
and given to them to suck. They thrive on it, too ! I 
remember that the first time I saw a baby being thus fed, 
the mother softening the bread in a little clay lamp saucer, 
wherein floated the wick, it shocked me so much that I told 
her to come up to the bungalow for proper baby food. She 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 189 

was the wife of one of our syces, so it surprised me that she 
had not done so before, being apparently too poor to feed 
her child properly. She came, and was given condensed 
milk and baby biscuits, protesting the while that her way 
was the right one ; nevertheless, I insisted. As ill-luck 
would have it, the baby died, and its mother said openly 
that ' the Dursani's bad food had poisoned it/ I have no 
doubt she honestly thought so, arguing, perhaps, from the 
fact that her other children, all brought up on a castor-oil- 
and-bread diet, were thriving. What could be said in the 
face of that ? 

Being wanted, therefore, by the people for a double pur- 
pose, it was not likely that the supply of leaves from these 
plants would give out, as they needed only the seeds. 

It may sound imaginative, but nevertheless it is a literal 
fact that the caterpillars were in such myriads, and so 
voracious, that they could be heard feeding. There was a 
constant rustling, apart from that of the leaves — the cease- 
less action of tiny jaws working day and night. Busily, 
faithfully, the little creatures were doing their part, prepar- 
ing for the impending change, when nothing would remain 
but to wrap themselves, each in its silken shroud, to await 
the new birth. Could it be that they were aware of their 
approaching transformation ? Yet how could they know ? 

In other ways besides tending and keeping them within 
the bounds of their respective trays — no light undertaking — 
our enormous families needed care. They had to be kept 
moist and fresh by being constantly sprinkled with the fine 
rose of a watering-pot. This had to be done gently but 
thoroughly, or, artificially circumstanced as they were, 
none would have lived through the critical time in their 
existence, namely, that of the sloughing and renewing of 
the outer skin. They would have been unable to rid them- 
selves of the old skin before it shrivelled and cracked and 
dried hard upon their tender bodies, which must be kept 



190 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

supple. As it was, if some, being under the others, were 
missed out in the general sprinkling and were in danger of 
death by strangulation, human help came to their rescue, 
such being invariably hunted up. With finely -pointed 
scissors, and the gentlest touch possible, the dry, papery 
cuticle was snipped away, and the beautiful little bodies 
released. For this native fingers were especially adapted ; 
our people thus freed hundreds, never bruising any. 

At first I could not endure to touch the crawling creatures 
with my bare hand — their proximity even was unpleasant 
to me — but soon every bit of that repulsion vanished, and 
I felt only admiration for their beauty, and for their intelli- 
gence, plainly shown by the way they turned towards those 
who fed them in unmistakable expectation. They knew 
also what to refuse and what to accept of the leaves given 
them. 

A curious fact in connection with caterpillars is their — 
I believe universal — power of assimilating the colours of 
whatever kind of vegetation they may be feeding upon. 
Ours were sometimes given variegated caladium leaves, 
which are so beautifully marbled with crimson, pink, and 
white, and even with black veinings occasionally. The effect 
on them of these leaves was especially marked. Caladiums 
were not wild plants in The Wynad ; they were cultivated 
for their foliage in great variety, so they could not be every- 
day food. 

The casualties in our trays were very few ; certainly not 
one was caused by neglect — from inadvertence, perhaps ; 
but I can truly say on behalf of everybody concerned that 
not an egg was crushed nor a singly squirming mite lost 
knowingly, so loyally did each of us do our part in furthering 
the great experiment. 

There were caterpillars everywhere, and all a-crawl, till 
it made one's eyes ache. Small, their numbers were be- 
wildering, but as they reached maturity, and a length of 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 191 

fully three inches each, they were overwhelming ; no trays 
could hold them ; ready to spin, they roamed everywhere 
in search of a retreat, wishing to choose for themselves, and 
showing resentment at interference by delay in spinning. 

Of course, a proper building ought to have been arranged 
for them, but, with no one's leave to ask but our own, 
we had thought the run of the house would do. Although 
we knew, theoretically, that if it had been a mile square it 
would not have been too large for creatures with their 
wandering propensities (and powers of locomotion to match), 
we did not realise it till faced by armies of facts. I am, 
however, only telling the story of how things were done, 
not of how they ought to have been done. 

Naturally the larvae were not all at the same stage of 
their development at one and the same time. So when 
the greater number of them had completed their round of 
destiny, and the cocoons were collected, silk-weavers were 
brought from their own homes to finish the work. First 
they laid the cocoons in warm water to loosen their tenacious 
gumminess, and then detached the silk. When we saw 
the glistening threads being wound off by their expert, 
satin-smooth fingers, we felt indeed repaid for all our 
trouble. 

If we had thought there were too many caterpillars, not 
so when it came to cocoons, for needs must a vast number 
go to the weaving of even quite a small piece of silk. 

A native artist of Trichinopoly was sent for to make 
water-colour drawings of the moths and larvae in every 
stage. His work was exquisite in its fidelity to detail, and 
was used in the illustration of a booklet F. wrote when the 
experiment had justified itself, and a piece of beautiful 
pure silk fabric was presented to the Madras Government, 
under which he served. 

Shortly after my husband's headquarters were trans- 
ferred ; and that was the end of silk-culture in The Wynad, 



192 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

his successor preferring to keep in old, easy-running grooves. 
A Government commission, or salary, does not imbue a man 
with a taste for things involving personal exertion and 
expense ; he has to find himself in that part of his equip- 
ment, or go without. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 193 



CHAPTER XVII 

Slaves in India — Native methods of hunting — Music and dancing — The 
musical scale — Native music at Hyderabad and Madras — The Todas 
— Their hospitality — Buffalo cream — Marriage system — Sacrificial 
festival. 

Slavery, abolished in some countries, is not so in India ; 
there it is common enough ; moreover, what we saw of 
it seemed unobjectionable. The system may give rise to 
abuses (in the native states, for instance), but I only speak 
to what I knew of it in The Wynad, where it flourishes, and 
has always existed. 

Certainly, judging by all we witnessed ourselves and 
learned by questioning the slaves, they could easily have 
been worse off ; and that was also their own mind about it, 
as we knew, for we saw them at work and at play. They 
called it play being loaned to us as beaters in a shooting 
expedition, when we hired them from their owners, who 
were ryots. 1 Doubtless there are bad owners, as there are 
bad masters ; judged as a system, however, this one seemed 
to answer very well ; for there is slavery and slavery. 
These slaves were paid for their labour, not in money, for 
which they would have no use, but in kind — so many 
measures of grain and other food stuffs ; so many cloths ; 
and a blanket every year. They were provided, too, with 
huts, or the material to build them. Though themselves 
slaves, as were their forefathers, yet they lived in a land 
where slavery was not the rule ; every one was free but 
they — nominally, that is, perhaps no more free in reality — 
and they knew quite enough about the conditions of those 

1 i.e. farmers, or cultivators of their own land. 

N 



194 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

other lives to be able to compare them with their own ; 
yet we never heard one of them complain or express a 
desire for freedom. Here, too, the slaves do not change 
hands ; they are not bought and sold in open market. 
The buying and selling were done centuries back over the 
persons of their ancestors. It has been mentioned earlier 
that a certain tribe showed African descent ; it is this to 
which the slaves belong. Intermarrying now only amongst 
themselves, their type of face is distinctly negroid, though 
blurred by the lapse of time and as the result of cross- 
breeding in past days when first brought to India as 
merchandise by Arab traders. 

As to their hair, it is crisp and woolly to a man — a perfect 
bush. I have seen many of them with it standing out one 
foot all round their heads, and very quaint they look, the 
old ones especially — little shrivelled black men and women 
with haloes of white hair ! 

They were hugely delighted when ordered out to accom- 
pany us, for they knew they were going to have a good 
time, and meat galore ; while to us they were particularly 
useful, being non-caste folk, and consequently could be em- 
ployed in many ways where caste would have interfered in- 
conveniently — annoyingly, even, had we not been used to it. 
This happened in the case of one set of people, mere coolies 
— load-bearers — who, while not looking so very different, 
and wearing, if possible, even less clothing, nevertheless 
held their heads mighty high, as being caste. They could 
not be asked to carry anything of leather, not a post-bag, 
or even a load with a strap attached ! They could choose 
their own masters, too, as against the poor slaves (who did 
not pity themselves, however), who always understood that 
when the Government, represented by their Doray, wanted 
them, they must be ready. We used to think that same 
caste was the hardest master of all ; for there were many 
things those coolies and others would gladly have joined in 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 195 

but for that ; eating this and that food, and so on, for they 
are childishly greedy. Some of them would not eat any- 
thing that had ever had life — animal life — though they would 
have liked to do so. Others might eat a killed animal, but 
not a dead one ; that is to say, if it had died after being shot 
they might not eat it, but if its throat were cut before death 
occurred, then they might ; and we were not likely to oblige 
them in this detail, even had it been possible. That was 
the state of things with some Mussulman peons we had, who 
often looked longingly enough at the rest feasting, but with 
these latter it was more a question of religion than caste. 
One cannot but admire and respect their constancy, for 
nothing tempts them to break through their principles, 
however hair-splitting some of their prejudices appear to us. 

Beaters, I must explain, are men whose part in a shikar 
expedition is to make as much noise as they can by shouting, 
clapping hands, thumping tom-toms, blowing horns, etc., 
as a preliminary to the sport proper, the object being to 
surprise and disturb any possible game, and so drive it out 
in any given direction. 

Though the slaves were as good as any at this, they were 
less practised at manoeuvring and circling the coverts, not 
having such unlimited leisure at their disposal as others of 
the country, and the hill-men, who organise beats on their 
own account. The methods of these last are cruel to a 
degree, giving the hunted no chance at all, let alone ruining 
the country for decent sport. They sally forth by dozens, 
and with their clamour soon drive a marked animal into a 
small covert ; a doe or fawn, no matter, it is all one to 
them, they being agile enough to accomplish their object 
even with a tiger or a panther. They then surround the 
place with enormously high nets, without a rent or a weak 
bit anywhere, catching them on to the trees firmly ; for there 
must be no breaking through — trust these hunters for seeing 
to that ! Then when the quarry has been driven, dazed 



196 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

and terrorised, into a given corner, it is met with a flight of 
arrows. Once enmeshed, the strongest are helpless ; the 
creature's struggles bring the net down round it, when it 
is at the villainous mercy of its captors. The sort of things 
these men find pleasure in are not to be written. 

However, they could not allow themselves such treats 
very often, for it was difficult to keep the secret, and if the 
Dor ay came to hear of it, they knew he had ways of making 
them feel his displeasure very uncomfortably. No force of 
example would ever avail here, only the fear of being found 
out, and he worked upon that. The whole of the guilty 
tribe would find itself excluded from his next expedition, 
and could be left alone to punish those who had taken part 
in the stolen one. Not all the men being able to leave their 
villages at the same time, some were bound to be innocent. 

Negroes are known to be almost invariably musical, and 
the African blood in the slave-folk told in the same way. 
A melancholy strain ran through all their melodies ; they 
were mostly tuneful enough, but some were nothing more 
than a weird sort of wail. In this their songs belied their 
natures, for they were a very merry set. As for their 
dances, I delighted in watching them ; the wildest, most 
fantastic ever seen, but with step and time harmoniously 
true. For some one to tap softly, with measured beat, on 
a little gourd tom-tom was quite enough to start the whole 
crew of them lying about round the camp log, and in an 
instant every muscle in every man's body was alive. As 
happy, and, as far as we were concerned, as harmless as 
kittens, though looking like nothing else but demons — their 
faces alternately reddened in the glow of the fire and black 
again in the shadow — they whirled round and round, waxing 
more and more beside themselves every minute, till one 
after another fell down from sheer exhaustion, and the rest 
danced on and over them as long as they could keep it up. 

The musical instruments which these people always 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 197 

brought with them, uncouth as they might look, hid wonder- 
ful harmonies of chords and of flute-like notes for those who 
could invoke them. They were self-taught ; but to hear 
a trained band of native musicians playing their own music 
is a treat not to be forgotten — it is hauntingly beautiful. 
Try as one may, it is impossible to reproduce anything in 
the least approaching to the gradations in their scale either 
on the piano or with the voice. I was told by a skilled 
flute-player, who was acquainted with Western music, 
that the formation of the throat is different in us, so that 
we cannot graduate the scale as they do, and that their 
instruments follow suit. He made his meaning quite clear 
to me when he said that while our music has tones and semi- 
tones, theirs has tones in between these, and he drew a line 
upon a piece of paper to represent the Hindu scale— con- 
tinuous, without any break at all ; a thing impossible to our 
voices, but he sang it himself in one continuous thread or 
line of sound — I can describe it no plainer. Our scale he 
drew as a series of dots, and as he sang it, it sounded dis- 
jointed and broken, just as it looked on paper as compared 
with his line. He also said that they had to acquire our 
scale by long practice ; their own came natural to them. 

In Hyderabad and in Madras and elsewhere I have heard 
wonderful music. On one occasion especially the musicians 
were all seated in a circle on the ground to begin with ; for 
their mode of playing obliges many changes of posture — 
they even lie down to it sometimes. Some had reed flutes, 
some ivory ; others violas and guitar-like instruments ; 
innumerable cymbals, too — tiny silver ones giving out a 
chiming sound, as well as huge brazen things deafening to 
be near ; while some, and those the greater number, had 
earthen water-pots by way of drums, a few of which were 
but six inches in diameter, others being eighteen inches or 
more. The pots were round, with a small opening only large 
enough for the performer to put his hand in to hold it by. 



198 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

By closing the mouth of his singular instrument with his 
own, and breathing into it, or by laying his cheek flat against 
it, leaving a partial opening, or none, the volume of sound 
was regulated at the musician's will. By drumming on the 
sides, inside and out, with finger-tips, knuckles, and elbow, 
the most wonderful variations were introduced on these 
magic pots, big and little, ad libitum, as it seemed ; for there 
was no written score, such as we require, spoiling half the 
effect. It was a perfect feast of harmony ; softly, exquis- 
itely, throbbing and swelling on and on, till it reached a 
climax of barbaric clash and clang like nothing I ever heard 
before, nor ever could again, except in the land where such 
inspirations are born. 

We heard a burst of very different kind of music on the 
occasion of a visit paid to the Todas, an aboriginal hill- 
tribe of the Nilgiri Hills, of whom only a few hundred remain. 
It was played on horns, whence issued the wildest and, to 
our ears, most discordant sounds, yet with something in 
them that was not all discord. Knowing what it portended, 
namely, a sacrificial ceremony, we left directly it began. 

The Todas are a grand-looking race of men and women, 
but I should think there could not be a dirtier nor a 
more ' stand-offish ' one, for they hold no ' truck - whatso- 
ever with their neighbours. Possessed of vast herds of 
buffaloes, grazing at will over the sparse upland pastures, 
they will neither give nor sell any of the produce derived 
from them ; not a drop of milk nor a leaf-ful of butter ; 
the reason being that Toda buffaloes are sacred. However, 
it ill befits me to speak thus, for we were treated with hos- 
pitality both spontaneous and unstinted. 

Few Europeans care to visit a Todsb-mund or village in 
the intimate way we did ; nor should we have been allowed 
to enter it but for a word or two spoken in our host's 
language — that ' Open Sesame ' to all hearts the world 
over. They brought us plantains, wild peaches, bread, and a 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 199 

wooden bucket of cream. Such cream ! a perfect blanket 
of it, solid and quite delicious. The buffaloes being fed on 
cotton-seed, their milk and the cream is white, not creamy, 
in colour. We mightily enjoyed our feast, dipping the little 
flat, round cakes of bread into the cream (and wishing we 
might take away such another bucketful with us), a crowd 
of our hosts and hostesses staring hard at us the while. 
Our feelings on nearing the bottom of the bucket can be 
more easily imagined than described, for there a horrifying 
sight was disclosed to us. In as thick a layer as the much- 
relished cream itself we now came upon the submerged 
bodies of beetles, flies, spiders, bees, cockroaches, and 
what not. These, too, had all found the cream much to 
their taste, fell in, and were left there — for us to find ! 
F. felt rather ill ; I got over the shock better ; and, to our 
credit be it said, we both behaved so well under the ordeal 
that no one else noticed our disgust. 

Accustomed as we were to the slight frames of the usual 
run of natives, it was a pleasure to contemplate such a 
different order of beings as the Todas. Every man we saw 
was big and broad-shouldered. The features of these people 
are straight and heavily moulded, the complexion olive, 
though no darker than that of many a weather-beaten 
Englishman, and every head shaggy with a perfect thatch 
of coarse hair. The women are not tall, but they, too, are 
upright in their carriage. They wear their blue-black hair 
parted exactly even, and hanging down upon their cheeks 
in quite lovely curls, in many cases reaching to their waists. 
This gives them a Victorian-era air oddly out of place as 
surmounting their figures ; the curls, too, are produced in 
the ordinary way used in our nurseries, being done up in 
rags overnight. Considering that these women know 
nothing of us and our customs, that small fact struck me 
as rather remarkable, for I had never seen it done among 
other natives. Some of them still wore their curl-rags, 



200 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

possibly not having expected us. Living in a cold climate 
as they do, every one is enveloped from head to foot in very 
heavy linen stuff, woven by themselves of flax fibre, and 
bordered quite handsomely in blue and red designs. When 
the members of the tribe are grown up enough to require 
clothing they are given a cloth ; this suffices for them till 
they marry, when a new one will be provided, and that will 
be made to last them their lives ; a third is given for their 
burial, which seems inconsistently lavish. This rumoured 
extreme economy of theirs in dress — not as to inches, but 
in regard to the time they will continue to wear the same 
identical cloth — we had heard of, and we thought we could 
smell it to be true. Disregarding the condition of these 
garments, it was the way they wrap themselves in them 
that made us think of togas and ancient Romans when 
looking at the classic-featured wearers. 

It had needed some interest for us to get the privilege 
of entree to their mund ; it was also necessary to crawl, 
almost on our chests, to get into their huts, the doors being 
only some eighteen inches square. Once inside, we were 
conscious of nothing but a wish to be out again, such was 
the atmosphere of thick, pungent, malodorous smoke. 
Very little could be discerned by our unaccustomed eyes 
except the mud divans all round the walls ; there was no 
furniture whatever, straw and skins serving for beds. 
Windows there were none, only a hole in the top of the bee- 
hive-shaped hut. We had been warned of what we might 
expect if we carried curiosity so far ; but the chance was a 
rare one, not granted to everybody, and we risked it, though 
it was a week before we felt really clean again. 

These people are polyandrists, only in the sense, however, 
of a woman being the wife of several brothers. Her chil- 
dren belong to the family generally, and the eldest brother 
is head of the house. If a man have no brother, then his 
wife has but one husband. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 201 

In other respects besides their distinguished appear- 
ance the Todas differ from their neighbours. Far from 
demanding pice (money) at the mere sight of Europeans, 
they would have been mortally offended at any immediate 
payment for their hospitality to us. Our making them some 
return later was mere courtesy, and as such accepted. 

When we were taking leave they told us that their great 
annual festival was about to begin, and that no strangers 
might be present ; but I imagine that none who knew any- 
thing about it would wish to be, at any rate at near quarters. 
Just then the first screeching notes of that discordant music 
reached our ears, setting our teeth on edge, and we were only 
in haste to be gone far enough out of eye and earshot, 
wishing we had chosen any day but this for our visit. We 
knew only too well the sort of thing it would be towards 
nightfall : men and women working themselves up to a pitch 
of madness by their frenzied dancing to wild music, and 
buffaloes by dozens being driven into the circle to be 
slaughtered — not speedily and done with, but with long- 
protracted agonies — while the songs and chantings, dances 
and orgies constituting the sacrificial rites dragged on into 
the dawn. If over then it would be an unusually short 
affair ; three days of it was more likely. 

Neither do they spare their own bodies and blood ; it 
is the priests of Baal over again, or rather such rites have 
always been : ' For they cried aloud, and cut themselves 
after their manner, with knives and lancets, till the blood 
gushed out upon them/ The ' manner ' of the Todas is 
precisely the same to-day. In spite of their lofty air and 
high-mindedness they are true savages after all. 

It is said that the wild human cries and the lowing of the 
miserable buffaloes can be heard for miles. The sound of 
them carries far, echo answering echo across the valleys and 
along the hilltops. And for all their jealousy of observa- 
tion they cannot prevent the eyes of strangers being on 



202 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

them, for their doings have been watched from some coign 
of vantage, and made very clear by the help of field-glasses. 
We were told by eye-witnesses who had so watched them 
that by the look of the people it is only a wonder that they 
stop at the sacrifice of buffaloes — when they do stop — 
except that their numbers are so fast decreasing. 

However, the nerve that could look on at that sort of 
thing in cold blood was not ours ; neither did we desire it ; 
so having unintentionally come so near, our only wish was 
to leave it all behind as quickly as possible. We made the 
best of our way home, but we could not forget that those 
terrible scenes were being enacted within a ten-mile ride 
of Ootacamund, the Simla of the Madras Presidency ! 




ll'iclc &• Klein, Phvto. 



Pykara Falls, near Ootacamund. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 203 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Return to Manantavadi — Butterflies — A man-eater and his prey — Story 
of the tragedy — Mysterious disappearance of an Englishman — 
Drastic native punishments — Fakirs — Suttee — The Car of Juggernaut 
— The martyr of Benares. 

The faculty for being surprised, unlike other faculties, 
sharpening by use, is apt to become dulled, or at any rate 
difficult to arouse, when surprises become the rule instead 
of the exception ; when it is the unexpected only that is 
expected, as in our jungle life — the tame one of civilisation 
had, in our estimation, no such quality of freshness to show. 
Those who have only experienced the latter might doubt 
the charm of our existence in the wilds as being altogether 
too ' nervy ' ; we knew both, and were in no doubt at all 
as to which we preferred. 

Our month's leave in bracing Ooty 1 being up, we started 
on the homeward ride to our headquarters at Manantavadi 
and the Experimental Garden with its thousand and one 
interests, but we went through an adventure or two before 
reaching it. That our ride was a memorable one will be 
readily understood when I mention that part of it was made, 
all unawares, in the neighbourhood of a man-eater that was 
coming up on his own dread business as we were going 
down. 

The main Ghat road — the Pykara Ghat, as it was called, 
starting from a place of that name — being tediously winding 
and dusty, we left the baggage-carts to crawl round by it 
at their own pace, while we, with the syces leading the 
horses, took the usual and generally much-frequented foot- 

1 Ootacamund (commonly called Ooty). 



204 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

path which led to the low country, in pleasant leafy shade 
all the way. The men had food with them, and the horses 
carried their own provender slung over the saddles, while 
for us there was a tiffin basket crammed full of provisions. 
It was a leisurely day-long picnic all through ; we met no 
one, nor anything of special note, and sorry we were to leave 
the dim green dells for the unwelcome blinding glare with- 
out ; yet that, too, had its compensation in the flocks of 
wondrous butterflies, flitting, poising, hovering by hundreds 
everywhere in the sunshine — their very life. Living gems 
they were of amethyst and emerald, nothing less, looking 
well-nigh transparent some of them from the talc-like spots 
in their wings (like those of the silk-moths) ; and these were 
fringed at the edge, by way of an added touch of fantastic 
beauty. It was always the same in this neighbourhood, 
but I never beheld so many together anywhere else, nor of 
such rainbow hues. 

Not being far from the Travellers' Bungalow we decided 
to push on to it after an hour's halt, and were just setting 
out to finish up a pleasant but uneventful day when a number 
of villagers came running up to us, calling out in evident 
distress, some bitterly weeping, and their faces blanched 
with horror. One of their people had that very day been 
carried off by a tiger ; such was the story they had to tell. 
Four men had started up the Ghat at daybreak, taking the 
same path — there being but the one — that we had followed 
in the opposite direction ; three only had returned, all idea 
of pursuing their journey or its business knocked out of 
their heads by the horrifying catastrophe. F. had a talk 
with these three, who told him exactly what had happened, 
as far as they could speak coherently, half-dead and dazed 
with fright as they were, and no wonder ! They could only 
say that one of them, the last man in the line of four climbing 
the path, had been seized and dragged away into the depths 
of the forest, a thick and impenetrable jungle, where none 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 205 

of them durst follow, knowing rescue to be impossible, even 
had it been their own father. He had not cried out, they 
said, and must have been struck down from behind, and 
instantly borne off. They heard the sudden rush back 
through the bushes, and knew which side of the path it 
was, but as to the direction taken there was not the quiver 
of a leaf to tell, so close was the cover and so quickly was 
it done. Just for one instant they heard the sound a tiger 
makes with his prey in his jaws — a growling and snarling — 
and then dead silence. A cat that has caught a mouse 
behaves in exactly the same way, making an angry, threaten- 
ing sound, harmless enough to human beings in her, but 
terrifying in the tiger, though of the self-same character. 
From this sound they knew it was a tiger, recognising the 
growling over possession ; for they had heard it before when 
some animal from their flocks had been seized — that had 
been bad enough. But now they saw nothing ; only knew 
that their companion was hideously gone, had fallen a 
prey to the prowling enemy ; that it might have been any 
one of them — might yet be, for aught they knew ! 

One hears occasionally of people being carried off by man- 
eating tigers, but never of any escaping if once attacked ; 
at least I never did, and there must be many more who meet 
death in this awful form, simply not being heard of again. 
But neither does such a tiger himself escape for very long ; 
his life is a marked one, for he leaves a trail of blood 
wherever he passes. To-day this tiger had killed his last 
man. 

The scene of the sickening tragedy was unusually high 
up the Ghat side for a tiger to ascend ; they prefer warmer 
latitudes — that is to say, low-country tigers do ; for there 
are plenty in cold latitudes also, each keeping to their own 
habitat. The spot must have been at an elevation of quite 
three thousand five hundred feet, where it would be com- 
paratively cold. How far his quest led him on we could 



206 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

judge pretty accurately ; for the men told us they were 
wearing their blankets, having tied them over their heads 
with a string round the neck, hood-like, which would account 
for the man's cries, if he uttered any, being much muffled. 
They had been followed, that little company of four, by the 
hungry tiger, unsuspected, stealthily watching for his chance, 
and then taking it with unerring judgment. 

As we also had set out at daybreak, travelling towards 
that party, and consequently towards the tiger that was 
stalking them, it seemed to me that we must have been 
running the same risk as they all day. But F. thought not ; 
for the man-eater, having marked down his man, would not 
have let himself be distracted, nor would he seek other prey 
for some days till he became hungry again. In an ordinary 
way we should have met the four villagers ; as it was, the 
three fled back horror-stricken. 

A letter meant to reach F. before we left Ooty to stop 
us from starting had been delayed on the way by the illness 
of the bearer. It was from a brother sportsman, giving 
khubber (news of game) from a private and reliable source 
of the more than suspected presence of a man-eater some- 
where on that Ghat, and proposing that an expedition to 
bag him be arranged ek dum (immediately), so as to secure 
the prize for themselves before he should have, perchance, 
advertised himself to all the native shikaris by carrying 
off some poor wight — which, alas ! was just what he 
did do. 

Khubber of this sort travels far and wide, if sent by word 
of mouth, so for that very reason the message was under 
seal ; but we wished the news had filtered down sooner to 
this village, and perhaps hindered those four from setting 
forth upon their journey. As it was, the writer of the 
belated letter was with us before it eventually came into our 
hands. He heard we had started, knew our destination, 
and was there almost as soon as we, having come by the long 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 207 

road, which for him, riding at breakneck speed, was really 
the shorter way, being all downhill. 

The villagers, terrorised by a calamity hitherto unknown 
amongst them, implored the Dor ays to kill the beast before 
he should have carried off any of their children or old folk, 
let alone more strong young men such as his one victim, 
as yet, had been. The Dorays needed no urging ; but a 
guide to the spot was advisable, for there was nothing on 
the path to mark it when we passed along — a guide only so 
far as to show where the man had been seized. The rest — 
the ascertaining of whither he had been taken — would be 
done by F. and the other sportsman, one after his own heart, 
and as cool as a cucumber. The three who had lost their 
companion had now partly recovered themselves, and were 
keen to help all they could in avenging him. All volunteered 
to act as guides, but it was thought that the smaller the 
party the better. Also, whoever went must remain ; no 
going back ; for there must be no needless tramping about. 
Therefore the unmarried one was chosen. 

It was already two o'clock, there was not much time, 
and all to do by four or so, when the tiger, after having 
gorged himself and then slept it off, would be stirring 
again ; but now, they could feel sure, he was still sleeping 
heavily, and in no condition to notice what might be going 
on under his nose. They all thought it unlikely that he 
had carried his prey very far, nothing being there to dispute 
it with him, and the cover dense all around ; though, like 
a common cat, a tiger must always steal away to devour 
his ' kill ' in solitude. They expected to come upon indica- 
tions enough of his whereabouts if he were anywhere near, 
while, of course, it was quite on the cards that he might 
be miles away. 

To make a long story short, the party of five set out — the 
two shots, their guide, and a couple of peons with spare 
rifles — and indications were found in the shreds of cotton 



208 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

cloth and brown blanket caught here and there on the 
thorns ; in the blood-besprinkled leaves and grass, where 
a way had been forced through, and the boughs and bushes 
wrenched aside by that tremendous passage ; and in the 
sickly odour, by which they knew they had found the 
remains of the victim. 

Though the tiger would not be alongside he would not 
be very far off ; for the habits of wild animals do not vary, 
though their hours may, according to whether they have a 
full stomach or an empty one ; if the latter, then they must 
keep on the prowl till their larder be replenished, giving 
themselves but little sleep except during the sultry 
noontide. 

That this tiger was now sleeping in some dim, cavernous 
retreat could be counted on as a certainty for just so long, 
and no longer, unless, indeed, he had so over-eaten himself 
as not to waken for another twenty-four hours ; that was 
quite possible, but they had to be ready for him in any case. 
Two out of the five men were past masters of every move 
in the game on hand ; the other three knew that, and 
followed their direction unquestioning. 

A hastily-constructed machan was fixed up at the proper 
height on a suitable tree, with closely-set boughs, to which 
it could be securely lashed. Upon this F. and his friend 
settled themselves to sit up over the ' kill ' for as short 
or as long a wait as might be necessary, the spare rifles 
beside them, and a provision of flasks and biscuits. The 
peons with the villager were perched up above, they, too, 
having food and water. The chief trial in long vigils of the 
kind is cramp, for all must be still as statues ; a movement 
might be fatal to success ; therefore F., as every sportsman 
would be, was very careful in choosing his rifle-bearers. 
These two men could and would endure as long as their 
master — more was not asked of them. The villager seemed 
made of the same metal, for the peons told me afterwards 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 209 

that, though an untried man, they had no fear of him, 
judging him by the look in his eyes and the set of his jaw. 

It so happened that the tiger was to time ; he appeared 
suddenly, his noiseless footfalls giving not the least hint 
of his approach till there he stood, nearly full face, looking 
leisurely about him, never once casting his eyes aloft to 
where other pairs of unwinking eyes were hidden in the 
foliage watching him. Lots had been drawn for the first 
shot, and the lot had fallen to the other sportsman ; but 
the truth was that the way that tiger spread himself along- 
side the ' kill,' in no hurry to begin, and absolutely unsus- 
picious of any danger lying in wait for him, deprived the 
thing of all idea of sport : it had lost zest for them both. 
F. told me afterwards that had it not been a case of a man- 
eating monster, and therefore a clear duty to put a stop to 
his career, they would have let him off. To draw a bead 
behind the ear as the tiger lay and pull trigger seemed 
almost dishonourable, even in his case ; and it was thus 
they felt about it in other similar cases. With so close a 
shot there was not the faintest chance of missing ; of course, 
if it had missed things would have taken a different turn ; 
but no — alive one moment, stone dead the next. 

As usual with man-eaters, the fur was patchy and harsh, 
entirely lacking that satiny gloss which is the glory of the 
coat belonging to a decently living animal. Those that 
take to the vice do so mostly in old age, when wind and limbs 
fail them, and when they must go hungry many a time 
because unable to run down a fleet stag or tackle a bison. 
They begin to look out for something easier to capture ; 
perhaps on some (for them) lucky day they come across an 
old crone hobbling her painful way along, and try their 
chance, to find no prey so easily come by. Ever afterwards 
they seek the same, waxing bolder, too, with practice, and 
discovering that even a man, unarmed, can be taken, let 
alone women and children ; thus sometimes a village has 

o 



210 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

been decimated. Famine years are responsible for turning 
many ordinary and hardly feared tigers into man-eaters. 
Of this we had proof enough, it being only what might be 
expected at such times ; for then many chances offer them- 
selves in the weaklings crawling about, or even lying half- 
dead on the roads by dozens. 

It is said that feeding on human flesh produces scurvy ; 
that such has been seen amongst famine-maddened, ship- 
wrecked people reduced to that last resource. It would seem 
to have something of the same effect on animals ; at any 
rate, man-eating tigers are invariably found to be diseased 
and mangy. 

The tiger episode ended, and the village tranquillised, 
knowing it could now sleep in peace (every man, woman, and 
child in it our bounden slaves), we left, to continue our 
journey homewards, another couple of days' journey 
through the prettiest bamboo-country imaginable ; while 
our friend returned to Ooty with his seedy-looking but most 
glorious trophy, showing as it did of what manner of monster 
the world was rid. 

It was hot travelling, so we rested in the shade by day ; 
but though our route was a pleasant and picturesque one, 
it took us through a neighbourhood with uncomfortable and 
creepy associations before reaching our destination. This 
was the scene of a mysterious affair that had never been 
cleared up, though many theories were started, and an 
exhaustive search made at the time it occurred, and for 
long afterwards. It seems that a young Englishman of the 
Survey Department, but recently joined, had ridden down 
from Ooty by this very Ghat, and along the same road as 
that on which we were now travelling ; he was walking, his 
horse being led by the syce following closely. He was an 
enthusiastic botanist, and on reaching a certain point he 
bade the man stay where he was, saying that he himself 
was going to hunt about for specimens near by, and strolled 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 211 

off, the two hailing each other every now and then, in case 
Mr. T. should go astray. After two or three such calls 
had been unanswered the syce became uneasy, and while 
keeping an eye on his horse, moved round, shouting loudly ; 
but never a sound came back. He waited, and as people 
passed up and down the path he got them to help in the 
search, which they did willingly, till crowds of them gathered, 
one running as a messenger to the nearest village to give the 
alarm. The place echoed and re-echoed with the hue and 
cry, but all in vain. Nothing more was ever heard or seen 
of the young man, except that his watch and chain were 
picked up quite close to the spot where he had left the 
syce. Not a shred of clothing or a trace of blood was found, 
nor any marks as of crushed grass made by a forced passage 
through the scrub ; moreover, it was very open just where 
master and man parted company. No suspicion of foul 
play ever attached to the syce, who was devoted to his 
master ; and the tiger theory was the only one to fall back 
upon, though there was no talk at the time, either before 
or after Mr. T.'s vanishing, of a man-eater being about. 
No other, however, would account for the total disappear- 
ance of the body. If it was a man-eater, then, after dealing 
that one numbing blow from behind — as with the villager 
in the case related above, who was never heard to cry out — 
he must have caught up his insensible victim, and raced off 
with him, getting plenty of start while the syce was calling 
and wondering at the silence. 

Riding through the same place it was impossible not 
to recall the mystery — uncomfortable, too, as unexplained 
happenings always are — and it was a relief to get into the 
open country ; for, despite the shady avenues of over- 
arching bamboos and the general pleasantness of the forest, 
the air seemed as though heavy with tragedy. The ground 
we rode over was spiky with young bamboos springing up 
everywhere ; so numerous were they that we could not 



212 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

avoid trampling on them, thereby destroying many a possible 
lordly clump. Looking at these green spikes we were re- 
minded of two widely different uses to which they are put 
at that early stage of their growth. One is the preserving 
them in syrup, when they are not easily recognisable for 
bamboo, in ' Chow-Chow,' that delicious compound of all 
sorts of things cut up small, or very young, such as gherkins, 
tiny green oranges, limes, etc. The other, a horrifying one, 
in which the rapid growth of these shoots is utilised in one 
of the cruel and ingenious methods of torture too common 
in the East, I will not describe. In all these tortures, called 
punishments, natives are as resourceful as in other directions ; 
the nearest thing will serve their turn. What can be nearer 
than a bamboo shoot I For they grow nearly everywhere by 
the million, at the astonishing rate of several inches in a 
single night, too. Not that these practices are openly carried 
on — in British India at least. Some Europeans may never 
have heard of them, though living among the people who 
invent and apply them. It is said that criminals have been 
condemned, not to death directly, but to some fell disease, 
a thousandfold worse, even to ravaging leprosy itself ! As 
to the truth of this I cannot speak. The simplicity of their 
ideas it is that strikes one ; no complicated machinery of 
pulleys, cords, or blades, only Nature herself put to the 
business — just starting her. Cruelty begets cruelty, here 
as elsewhere. A man who had been subjected to the bamboo 
torture, and survived it, told F. that all he lived for after- 
wards was the chance of doing as he had been done by. 
We never heard if he got the chance ; but his will was 
good. One would think that crimes meriting such cruel 
penalties must needs be terrible ; not so, necessarily. A 
few annas' worth of stuff stolen, or a scrap of leather, or 
some such trifle is quite enough to get the thieving hand 

crushed with a mallet, or imprisoned in green hide, or . 

But there is no end to the choice of tortures ; they are read 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 213 

of commonly in the newspapers, and every one is familiar 
with them by hearsay. And yet, considering what these 
people will voluntarily undergo, one wonders if there be any 
limit to their powers of endurance. Neither wild beasts nor 
human tormentors could be more cruel to them than they 
are to themselves in their strivings towards a future life 
and salvation, not in expiation of their own sins alone, but 
in truly altruistic efforts for their fellows. Instances of 
these martyrdoms for an ideal may often be seen in a village 
street, where some emaciated creature is walking or limping 
along, or rolling over and over on the ground. He may 
have vowed himself to that, never to stand upright again. 
Round about him the hard-headed, money-grabbing, prob- 
ably knavish, populace watch his progress reveringly ; and, 
thoroughly believing in their share in the benefits that ensue, 
drop their pice ungrudgingly into his begging bowl — a cheap 
salvation to them, bought with the other's blood and suffer- 
ing. One such poor creature we saw at Manantavadi. He 
was just passing through, on a three hundred mile pilgrim- 
age (whither I have now forgotten), and, in accordance with 
his vow, every yard of it was to be covered in the painful 
way I have mentioned, namely, by rolling over and over 
and over along the road, if there were any. When he should 
come to an obstacle, such as a river, which by no amount of 
will power could be thus traversed, he would have to be 
ferried, or he might ford it, but he would be sure to choose 
the route that would give him most trouble. He was a 
shocking spectacle, hardly human, and now in years ; his 
long rope-like hair tied in bunches, and full of ashes, which 
he rubbed in as if road refuse and Utter were not enough, 
was fastened round his waist ; blood, never wiped off, was 
on his face and body, cut and lacerated as they were by 
every flint or sharp thing that lay in his path ; of his gar- 
ments hardly a whole inch was to be seen, and the poor 
exposed frame was startlingly emaciated. But the eyes of 



214 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

him ! bloodshot and. nigh mad, not with lunacy, but with 
devotion and ecstasy. No transient impulse of a revivalist 
convert ; as long as life should last one idea would dominate 
that man, ' counting not the cost,' feeling neither heat nor 
cold, hunger nor thirst, only one thought in the poor blind 
heroic soul — to keep his vow, to reach the goal. Salvation 
to be bought with his agony and endurance for the sins of 
others. Nothing lower than that magnificence of aim was 
his ideal. It makes one think. 

Sometimes one will take a vow in early manhood that he 
will clench a fist, never to loosen it ; till it comes to pass 
in age that the nails have grown through the palm, and that 
suffering is long past. That is no rare sight. Or a vow 
that he will stand on a pillar with one arm extended, being 
supported in the strain till the arm have learnt to obey, 
and does not drop ; then at last comes relief in that it cannot 
do so. 

Those three poor creatures — I have seen many more than 
three fakirs, as they are called — were old then, and must 
long have passed to their reward. Accounted saints on 
earth, I dare believe that they are saints now, in very truth, 
for surely everything lies in the motive. 

In 1829 Lord Bentinck took measures to put down the 
ancient Hindu custom of suttee — the self-immolation of 
widows — but cases are still heard of, ay, and sometimes 
not heard of, when the widows claim a voice in the matter ; 
for they it is who insist on mounting the funeral pyre, as 
their mothers did before them. 

The great Car of Juggernaut still exists, and is used on 
occasion of the annual festival in honour of Vishnu — the 
second god in the Hindu Triad — and claims a yearly tribute 
of devotees, who lay themselves in the way of its progress 
that they may be crushed beneath the wheels. Many an 
isolated place has its Car, and no dearth of willing victims. 
They do not want to be prevented, and where we have no 




From Stereograph Copyright, Underwood Sr Uiidertvood. 

Hindu Devotee of Kali. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 215 

jurisdiction this and other unspeakable rites prevail, and 
will continue to do so, because the spirit of the thing is im- 
mortal. Though they are not done so openly as they used 
to be, they are still done. People will torture themselves in 
public in the most ghastly ways, and never a groan. It 
has been suggested that some narcotic is taken to deaden 
sensibility, but I do not believe it ; to do so would be to 
give the lie to the men who undergo these things, and to 
whom it is no matter of merely showing off for the sake of 
applause. Besides, the pain is what they offer in the volun- 
tary act, as acceptable to their conception of the Deity ; a 
conception in this respect shared by other creeds and not 
peculiar to the so-called benighted faiths of the East. 
Exaltation of mind and rapt ecstasy suffice to support them 
under the torture as long as it lasts. 

At Benares, the Sacred City on the Ganges, the chief seat 
of Hinduism, and one of the most ancient cities in the world, 
there was up to some few years ago a man who had had 
himself laid upon a bed of iron spikes, the spikes being about 
two inches high, square-sided, and closely set. On that 
he lived for thirty-five years, but before he died he had 
long ceased to suffer. The wounds were healed, he rested 
on the wooden couch, for the spikes had embedded them- 
selves in his flesh, and could do no more. He had become 
almost flat in his emaciation. A thatched shelter had been 
put over him as a protection from sun and dews, and he 
was fed with just so much as would keep a pulse in him. 
Coercion there was none ; that death in life he endured 
believing himself to be a redeemer of his race ; it was for 
the sins of a world that he lay there. He was not the first 
of his kind ; he will not be the last. 

The martyrdoms of Christianity itself pale before such 
as these in that these are voluntary. The whole span of life 
from early manhood is renounced, the joy of living dropped, 
and the endurance of unremitted torment taken up instead ; 



216 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

and not for fear of worse befalling — of hell-fires in lieu of 
earthly burnings — neither are they done for self at all. 
What matter whether in the name of Brahma, or of the 
Buddha, or of the Christ ? The spirit of renunciation is 
the same in all, and as such is accepted. Let us be sure of 
that. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 217 



CHAPTER XIX 

Changes in India — Government servants and gifts — The Zenanas — Slave- 
girls — Visit to a Zenana at Hyderabad — Fidelity of servants — 
Entertainments — The Nizam's palace — Native banquets — Sir Salar 
Jung — Tombs of Golconda — Old priest in the mosque — Human 
monstrosities — ' God's animals.' 

Many changes have come about of late years in India, and 
if that have been said before, and is now repeated, it is 
because the fact strikes one so often in regard to her varied 
aspects. Not as to her creeds and religious practices — 
there are no changes there, nor probably ever will be, 
speaking of India as a whole — but in manifold other ways 
things are different. Fortunes are not made by magic, as 
in ' John Company's ' days ; ' shaking the pagoda tree,' as 
it was called, does not now bring down a shower of gold 
mohurs. Native princes have in times past made many a 
doctor wealthy in gratitude for some lucky cure, but they 
do so no longer, because the doctors may not take more 
than their dues. Government servants get their salaries, 
which are not to be supplemented by back-door ways. I 
am not saying that they were so formerly, only that they 
cannot be now. So rigid and distinct are the rules that if 
the word ' perishable ' can be applied to a proffered gift 
that gift may be accepted, but not otherwise. Fresh fruit, 
for instance, or sweetmeats, may be so described, but not 
tinned fruit ; that is not perishable in the sense intended. 
We had such gifts offered us — a dozen large tins of preserved 
peaches — once, and ornamental boxes of ivory or sandal- 
wood, which, not being perishable, had to be refused. 
Neither would there be any offence taken, for the giver 



218 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

equally understood the Government definition, and in fact 
rendered himself liable to suspicion of bribery by his offer. 
I do not say that there is absolutely no exchange of gifts, 
only that it is disallowed in the official service. All that is 
certainly a change for the better, that the balance may be 
held even. Other things are not so easy to adjust or 
abolish by rule, as the examples given in the last chapter 
testify. 

Nevertheless, though progress is very slow in the East, 
even there a new life is pulsating. The newly acquired taste 
for travel has given rise to fresh sets of ideas in many minds, 
but the pleasures of travel are not to be indulged in without 
incurring a vast deal of trouble on the return. Endless 
caste ceremonies for purification are quite indispensable 
if the traveller wishes to be received back into his family 
after being contaminated by mixing with low-caste and 
casteless persons. 

Perhaps the Zenana mind is the most inaccessible of any 
to new ideas — no thought of travel there — yet even there 
ideas have penetrated. Those who in their ignorance have 
said that there was no mind to reach spoke with little 
knowledge. Indeed, there are minds, and of the subtlest, 
in the Zenanas ; plots are hatched there to be carried out 
elsewhere, and never any connection to be traced. Women 
govern India. I have heard that said by educated Hindus, 
and others who knew intimately more countries and more 
races than their own. The strictness of purdah (screen or 
curtain) makes no difference ; the ladies, the wives and 
favourites, from the seclusion behind the purdah — which 
they never leave, and where no male eye rests upon them 
except that of their own lord and master — pull the strings 
of governments and of dynasties. 

Not so long ago slavery — sometimes of a kind nowhere 
surpassed in horror — existed in the Zenanas, though, 
happily, owing to persistent personal effort, the face of things 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 219 

has changed in recent years. A friend of mind, well known 
throughout the Presidency for her work in the Zenanas, 
told me that she had seen a slave-woman hanging near the 
bottom of a deep well, the water — in which water-snakes 
were swimming — reaching to her knees. She was unable 
to escape from the snakes by raising her cramped limbs out 
of the icy, underground water, or — a poor alternative — end 
her sufferings by drowning herself. When she had hung 
there long enough they would haul her up, in what condition 
I cannot imagine, not having seen her ; but in this special 
instance, at the visitor's request, the woman was brought 
to the surface sooner. She was crying feebly, but made 
no complaint. 

Knowing the ways of natives in general, if not the usages 
of Zenanas, pretty well by then, it was foolish of me to ask 
why the whole place where such things were done was not 
routed out. Could not Mrs. F., with her intimacy in these 
Zenanas, effect what no one else could ? The answer she 
gave me was so obviously true that I might have guessed 
it beforehand. No, and for that very reason. Were she to 
publish abroad the wrongs she witnessed, and which it was 
her lifework to strive to remedy, there would be an end for 
ever of that work from the inside, where no authority could 
reach. Moral influence was all she could even try to use ; 
for it would take more than the ill-treatment or murder of 
a slave-girl to rouse their lord against his favourites. She 
would be much more likely to get herself shut out if she 
attempted it, and then good-bye to any future hopes of 
improvement as far as she herself was concerned in them. 
From the outside nothing whatever could be done. That 
also is India. 

Mrs. F. told me that a very hard part of her work lay in 
controlling herself when an eye-witness of indignities un- 
speakable — of outrages inflicted on womanhood by women, 
of hopeless slavery ; in trying to appear as though she did 



220 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

not care so very much, when she was nearly maddened, the 
blood surging in her head with the sight of things going on 
before her eyes, which she was impotent to prevent or alter 
immediately. Hands would be clasped round her feet 
pleading for her intercession with a mistress whom no tears 
could touch ; that was the hardest of all. The little she 
could effect would be choked back by the custom of cen- 
turies, and by treachery always present ; for she knew she 
was walking on egg shells all the while herself, her own life 
at the mercy of the merciless. 

It was a reigning favourite who had had her slave sus- 
pended in the well ; but the tables are turned sometimes, 
and an ex-favourite finds herself done by as she would have 
done — has done — in times past. 

Though I heard many a tale of cold-blooded crimes I 
heard, too, of patient sweetness and of good rendered for 
evil by slave-girls, even by one whose face and shoulders were 
not yet healed where her mistress had pinched tiny bits 
out of her flesh with an instrument ; a ' heathen ' girl, too. 
But I think of her as a St. Elizabeth ; for when that mistress 
came to be stricken down by some loathsome disease, and 
had become dreadful to all, she alone would go near her to 
minister to her needs. 

In sickness the lot of these women was very hopeless 
before lady doctors, who are now welcomed, were admitted 
to the Zenanas. The custom used to be for the sick one to 
put her tongue through a hole in the door or in the purdah 
for the hakim (doctor) to inspect. That was the only guide 
allowed him as to her ailment or condition ; her hand he 
might not so much as touch. In those days mission women 
who had grown old in the service, and even young ones, 
must often have despaired of seeing any difference in their 
time, though their pluck and zeal were not to be daunted ; 
but the leaven was working, and now these things are of the 
long past. Hard to move as India has ever been, I suppose 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 221 

that it was hardest in the Zenanas, for the opposition met 
with there in every direction always came from the older 
women — the grandmothers of young India — who are all- 
powerful. To change their outlook was the object aimed 
at ; to thwart this aim was theirs. Their ear once gained, 
the rest was easy. 

Once, while staying at Secunderabad, a military canton- 
ment of the Deccan, I with others paid a visit to the Zenana 
of one of the great nobles at Hyderabad, three miles away. 
The rooms were richly yet tawdrily furnished with many 
useless lumbering pieces of furniture in magnificently carved 
blackwood * which stood about pointlessly. The gilt- 
framed mirrors were of common glass, distorting everything, 
while the faces and forms of the women they should have 
reflected faithfully were, some of them, truly lovely ; fair, 
too, even to a European eye. We were told they were 
Georgians and Circassians. 

It was very delightful to be able to gaze unrestrainedly 
at so much beauty without being thought the least rude, 
and, indeed,. they stared as frankly at us. While these ladies 
treated us with perfect courtesy, they could not conceal 
their intense curiosity, especially as to our clothes, though 
their own were far more beautiful really, and probably 
more costly, as well. They scrutinised and appraised all 
we had on, and as some of them spoke quite good English it 
was amusing, but embarrassing, when they picked out with 
acumen the best shoes of one or the best hat of another, 
even extending their remarks to our petticoats and stockings, 
and asking us what price they were. Fashion-plates were 
lying about, so they had a standard of comparison. 

We all received some gift — strings of pearls, turquoises, 
etc. ; and we had taken little presents ourselves, such as 
fancy boxes of bon-bons, but of those we saw plenty there 
already. 

1 Dalbergia latifolia, an Indian tree, the rosewood of commerce. 



222 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Several of the ladies could and did read, so they must 
have come to know something of the narrowness of their 
lives compared with ours, and must, I should think, have 
chafed at their limitations. Many black slave-girls moved 
about among their mistresses, and I could not but recall 
the stories I had heard, and which I knew to be not one 
whit exaggerated, though we saw nothing painful. Never- 
theless, it was on the whole a saddening visit, and I never 
wished to repeat it. ' The dark places of the earth are full 
of cruelty,' and few places were darker at one time than the 
dim rooms behind the Zenana lattices. 

On leaving India the main impressions one carries away 
are those of her gorgeousness and her cruelties ; and, 
together with her treacheries, the dog-like fidelity of her 
people, once that be evoked. This is evidenced so often 
amongst one's own servants in their blind devotion, given in 
return for the slightest consideration and kindness. They 
will stop for days and weeks on guard at a sick-room door, 
faithfully seeing to it that medicines are to hand to the 
moment ; and so cautious are they as to the food the cook 
prepares that they will force him to taste everything before 
it is given to the invalid. All that lies in their power they 
will do, and at these times may be trusted with property 
and money unreckoned. This we have proved. 

It may be that I have dwelt on the cruelties of India with 
too much detail for the hypersensitive ; yet it should be 
possible to read of what other people endure. Her gorgeous- 
ness must be seen to be realised ; it can hardly be depicted, 
and cannot be exaggerated. Before visiting Hyderabad 
an expression often used to describe India and other 
Eastern lands — ' the Gorgeous East ' — seemed to me no 
more than a phrase ; afterwards I recognised it as only a 
plain truth, happily worded. 

There are two Hyderabads : one is the capital of Sindh, 
in the Bombay Presidency ; the other is the name of the 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 223 

Nizam's dominions — a feudatory kingdom in that part of 
Central India called the Deccan, which is bounded on the 
north by the Penganga, and on the south by the Kistna, 
rivers, Hindustan proper being all India lying to the north 
of that. The capital, of the same name — Hyderabad — is a 
Mussulman city with a grand mosque, on the model of that 
containing the Kaaba at Mecca, and with a population of 
over 10,200,000. This is the Hyderabad I knew. The 
British Residency is situated just beyond the walls. Enter- 
tainments are often given to English residents, military and 
civil, of Secunderabad by His Royal Highness the Nizam, 
or to give him his full title, Nizam-ul Mulk (Regulator of 
the State). I have been present at many such. On these 
occasions the native princes and noblemen were literally 
hung with ' barbaric pearl and gold ' worth, to the eye of an 
expert, many thousands of pounds. Their jewels do not, 
however, show to the best advantage according to our 
ideas, not, as a rule, being cut in facets as with us, but en 
cabochon, that is, rounded or squared, and polished only ; 
sometimes not even polished. Still, that very roughness has 
its charm, hinting at possibilities of unrevealed splendour. 

Some of the court children looked as if they could hardly 
walk under the weight of their own magnificence. One 
beautiful boy that I especially remember, a princeling of 
seven years, who shook hands with us graciously with a 
regal air, was trailing after him a four-foot sword damascened 
with gold. His tiny hand — such a delicately cared for one, 
with henna-stained nails — rested on the hilt, which was a 
blaze of rubies. He was dressed to his heels in a black velvet 
coat, so heavily embroidered with gold thread that scarcely 
any groundwork was to be seen, and his little person was 
agleam with jewels. A king's ransom hung round his neck, 
and a great emerald was fastened in the small black velvet 
cap without which he would not have let himself be seen 
in public. He did not look to me a very happy little 



224 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

fellow, but he may have been only bored, and certainly we 
were in no position to judge. His august father, who was 
not half so fine as he, was evidently proud of him. 

The Nizam's palace was a wonderful place, and the 
strange contrasts to be seen everywhere were simply ludi- 
crous. Marble floors and shocking mirrors ; exquisite fur- 
niture and the crudest of pictures ; ceilings decorated with 
dozens of large green and red glass globes, hanging singly 
as though they were art treasures — the kind only meant 
for Christmas trees, except that these were as large as foot- 
balls, very likely made especially for the Nizam. One room 
was furnished entirely in glass, the tables, chairs, sofas, 
and footstools all running on gilded castors on a glass floor, 
and all quite solid-looking but uninviting. They had been 
made for His Royal Highness in Vienna, and though we 
were far from admiring the idea, we could say truthfully 
that it was very wonderful. 

Another vast apartment was fitted up with nothing but 
ivory and malachite, great slabs of the latter forming the 
tops of tables ; and here the contrast was lovely. 

Seeing ivory used in this lavish way made one think re- 
gretfully of the awful slaughter involved in obtaining 
such quantities ; but the Eastern magnate counts the cost 
of nothing — certainly not that sort of cost — giving not a 
thought to it ; for that matter, he thinks and does very 
little for himself at all. 

There was no end to the rooms in this huge palace, and 
no comfort in any of them, to our thinking. One was 
severely destitute of any furniture whatever, apparently 
the better to display the beauty of its walls, which were of 
rich, glossy vermilion — charming enough but for the cheap 
crockery stuck all over them. Nor was there any fear of 
these treasures falling, every piece being embedded into 
the surface — cups, saucers, plates, and dishes of the kind 
seen on costers' barrows in England. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 225 

It is a curious fact that these jarring incongruities that 
set one's teeth on edge in Eastern palaces are found only 
when the native designers and artificers, who are true artists 
in their perception of form and colouring, depart from their 
own sphere ; they can blend everything of their own pro- 
duction, and can even create. Curious it is, too, that all 
around is seen marvellous beauty of workmanship joined 
to the most horrifying animalism — indeed, brutality — in 
some of the designs. Most intricate and fine was the open- 
work carving of the blackwood furniture, of the ivories, 
the tortoise-shell, and other things ; but a minute scrutiny 
was often impossible, so unspeakable were the subjects of 
all this delicate handiwork. 

The cushioning of the sofas and chairs was covered with 
the flimsiest crimson or yellow brocaded satin of an un- 
pleasant feeling, papery sort. And it is a strange thing, too, 
in connection with India's matchless needlecraft that it is 
done on such a coarse ground, gold and silver and exquis- 
itely harmonised silks being embroidered on muslin or on 
common black calico that will hardly support the weight 
of the beautiful work ; in contrast there with the equally 
fantastic loveliness of Chinese and Japanese creations, 
which are always worked upon a silken fabric worthy of 
such adornment, with both sides showing the same perfect 
finish. 

At native banquets, or rather those given in honour of 
English guests, the menu is somewhat of a trial, etiquette 
demanding that one eat, or at any rate taste, something of 
everything, in order to show that one has no suspicion of 
poisoning. For instance, a heaped-up plateful was put 
before me ; it was pillau of kid, delicious to those who eat 
it in happy ignorance as to how that kid was procured, but 
to those who know, as I did, most horrible : the mother was 
killed before its birth. 

The sweetmeats — metais — however are always delight- 

p 



226 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

fid, if mysterious. There are no rules as to not pocketing 
these, and it is considered a compliment if one ask per- 
mission to take some away, so I ventured the request ; 
whereupon a packet was given me wrapped in gilt paper, 
and when we left we found such a parcel of these metais in 
the carriage ! Jellabies, most fascinating of all, are com- 
posed of honey, rosewater, flour of some special grain, and 
butter — or ghee, the native form of it — boiled and strained 
with some other ingredient that I could never find out, 
but which makes all the difference to those rather ordinary 
materials. The mixture is fried in the shape of flat circles, 
something like curled macaroni, in pipes ; what these pipes 
contain I cannot say, but it is a most delicately flavoured 
syrup, quite indescribable. To taste jellabies freshly made 
would be a revelation to a European confectioner. Hulwa, 
though quite different, is equally captivating. This is a 
paste of cream, nuts, camels' milk, and honey, also with 
something mysterious in its flavour which one could not 
name or even describe. Hulwa is like nougat in appear- 
ance, though in no other respect. There are many other 
sorts, but these two were my favourites ; and one need not 
wait for an entertainment to get them, for they are to be 
bought in perfection in the bazaars everywhere. 

At the close of these parties, while host and guests take 
leave of each other, attendants stand by with huge trays 
laden with gifts, one for each person, all receiving the same. 
Attar-of-rose, in delicate glass phials covered with gold 
tracery, was very often the gift, and a coveted one, this 
being the pure attar. 

On one occasion, during the regency of Sir Salar Jung, 
H.R.H.'s Prime Minister, one of the guests, who had already 
passed out with his gift, contrived to come round a second 
time, thinking to receive a second gift ; upon which Sir 
Salar, withholding his hand, and without an instant's 
hesitation, ordered the entire remaining trayful of attar to 




From Stereograph Copyright, Utide, 

The Tombs at Goi.conpa. 



' &" Vndenvood. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 227 

be placed in ' this gentleman's carriage,' saying pointedly 
to him : ' These will last you till you be again invited to 
the palace of His Highness.' The other, taken aback at 
the prompt recognition, was dumbfoundered, and turned 
away, followed by the officials with the tray-load, and 
watched perhaps by some that were not ill -pleased to 
witness the discomfiture of a Feringhi (Englishman). 

Those who saw this incident said that if that guest had 
thought himself very clever it was before he met the expres- 
sion on Sir Salar Jung's fine face, an expression of lofty pity 
for such a mean-souled person, which was plainly to be read 
by all the onlookers, who considered him properly extin- 
guished. Nobody was sorry for him, it being felt that a 
slur had been cast on English society ; and his punishment 
was not over when he left the palace, for such disgrace is not 
easily forgotten. 

Never was a finer gentleman than Sir Salar Jung ; his 
bearing and accent were simply those of a cultured English- 
man, and he was persona grata at the British Residency. 
His dress was of the plainest, and never a jewel ; he always 
wore a long black velvet coat, like a cassock, and a velvet 
cap. Orders — no end — glittered on his breast, but not a 
ring on his fingers. If there be aught in hands, his betokened 
keen intellect, foresight, and grasp of authority, all neces- 
sary in a ruler of such a state as Hyderabad, where, amongst 
warring people and sects, sedition was always present below 
the surface ; but he was their master. In his presence one 
felt that he was one of the men who make history — a power 
for good or ill. When he died, some years ago now, English- 
men knew that they had lost a friend. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that we visited the famous 
tombs of Golconda, for no one leaves Hyderabad without 
seeing them. They have been described so often that any 
word of mine would be superfluous. Their surfaces are 
sadly denuded of the mosaics, softly yet brilliantly tinted, 



228 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

of lapis-1 azuli and marbles in minutest pieces which formerly- 
adorned them, for many of them have fallen out with the 
lapse of ages — the tombs being coeval with the Pharaohs — 
many more have been knocked out by unscrupulous tourists. 

Every one has seen pictures of these grand tombs sur- 
rounding the great mosque, with their symmetry of polished 
dome and gilded minaret. Yet it is not so much for the 
beauty of the tombs that I remember Golconda, as for the 
grand old priest standing at his place in the centre of the 
mosque, the Koran supported before him. 

That ancient man, garbed in a long straight-falling white 
robe and heavy turban, with his snowy beard waving to 
his waist, and his features brown and chiselled, was one's 
ideal of a patriarch of old — a very Abraham. That 
name in its Eastern form of Ibrahim is to this day most 
usual. 

We had removed our shoes as requested on entering the 
vestibule of the mosque, and that venerable figure turned 
to greet us. His great horn spectacles, with shrewd, kindly 
eyes behind them, suited his face, in the lofty expression of 
which there was simplicity and dignity, combined with the 
calm of a deep thinker and scholar. I shall never forget 
him. 

Keeping a long patrician forefinger at the place in his 
book, he spoke to us in English as ready as our own. I 
had noticed that there were two books, one within the 
other. The great one was the Koran, bound in white vellum ; 
the other — and it gave me a distinct shock — was a novel of 
Miss Braddon's ! Several of us had seen this, and our eyes 
met each other's ; they also met those of the old gentleman, 
for he smiled, and said he was enjoying it. ' Had we read 
it ? ' He then turned round and read aloud a paragraph 
in good, if careful, English in the sonorous, musical tone of 
his race. He told us that he wearied of reading the Koran, 
knowing it by heart as he did, and that he could always 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 229 

repeat it to himself — could do so mechanically out loud to 
his hearers, while reading or letting his eye run along the 
pages of some other book, as now. After this frankness on 
his part we all felt quite at home with the old gentleman, 
though the solemnity of the visit seemed rather dashed. 
He shook hands with us all, saying he had friends among the 
' Infidels ' whom he much esteemed ; that he had been born 
a Moslem, but had acquired through study a preference 
for the ' Infidels' ' creed, which he held in his heart ; that 
he kept it there, not meaning ever to disturb the faith of 
others, who, not having read as he had, would ' lose anchor- 
age ' (his very words) were they aware of his change of 
faith. That old priest hangs, a conspicuous figure, in my 
gallery of memory portraits. 

Another well-remembered but very different sight in 
Hyderabad was the magenta-coloured tails and manes of 
the horses. Such horses ! and so shockingly bitted ! But 
bearing-reins and blinkers were not to be seen there except 
occasionally, in imitation of English ways ; and the velvet 
mouths may have had to accustom themselves to those bits 
and curbs from colthood. 

The people's beards, too ! A Mussulman's beard is his 
glory ; to be plucked by it would be lasting shame. He 
dyes it red, an orange red, not covertly, but as a worthy 
act. 

The sights in the gutters — if gutters they can be called 
where all is gutter — were haunting in their horror . Scarcely 
was there carriage width in the streets of the city itself. 
The baksheesh (alms) we showered broadcast as we passed 
was clawed at by professional mendicants for themselves, 
or begged by attendants upon objects such as must have 
inspired Gustave Dore's illustrations of Dante's Inferno. 

One of these was set up on the roadway, being without 
legs, and covered up with a cloth. It begged for itself, but 
being also without arms, a bowl for donations supported 



230 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

on iron hooks rested on its chest ; and when the attendant, 
who seemed to be there to exhibit this wreck of humanity 
to remind passers-by what they might come to, and live, 
twitched off the merciful, veiling cloth, a sight was disclosed 
which one would much rather have been spared. It was 
in my mind to ask how it got about, for there was nothing 
to be seen that might serve for its conveyance ; that turned 
out, however, to be quite a simple matter. Local charity 
was too much used to such sights to pay much attention ; 
besides, the people were all agape at us, so the attendant — 
I saw him do it — picked up that fragment of a man, dropped 
it into a bag, and hoisted it over his shoulder, without any 
sound from within, so one might hope that no additional 
discomfort was experienced there by this mode of exit. 

As for cripples and specimens of mere deformities, there 
is no end to them ; not begging, but hobbling and limping 
about their business, well aware that their deficiencies 
being nothing out of the common, they could not expect 
many pice. No bazaar or street is complete without these 
eyesores by the dozen ; doubtless it is the same in other 
countries, but I only answer for India. The legless ones 
use a little cart running on two tiny wooden wheels, and 
urge themselves along cleverly by means of a pair of short 
staves. I noticed a quartette of such beings playing cards 
in a verandah, well-fed, comfortable-looking people — what 
there was of them. That happened to be in a town on my 
own familiar west coast, which is second to none for un- 
pleasant sights. 

Some of these deformities and monstrosities are born so, 
some become so accidentally — or otherwise. I must explain 
how this latter comes about. It is claimed that the idea 
originated in Burmah, but soon spread. As soon as a child 
is born they put it into an earthenware mould, not of the 
baby's shape, but of a fanciful one — flattened here, bulging 
there, with outlets for ventilation. In this it must live and 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 231 

grow as it best can, its adult shape being determined by the 
mould in which it was made to begin life. There will be no 
cramping or stunting — the better grown and healthier the 
better value — only the little growing body must expand 
where it can, repressing itself elsewhere. The face is gener- 
ally left free, and the feet normally placed, but obviously 
if the shape did not vary considerably from the natural 
human form the aim proposed would be defeated. The 
process is not a painful one — so we were assured — and the 
mere act of growing being an unconscious one, it may be 
all one in what direction legs and arms develop, provided 
they have space allowed them somewhere. An arm may 
sprout out of the side ; or the chest be turned half-way 
round to the back, the body being a series of hollows and 
excrescences. All that eccentricity is not necessarily pain- 
ful, nor was it so in the making, judging by the appearance 
of health in the finished productions — an appearance not to 
be simulated. Parents with a far-seeing eye have found 
that they could thus provide an easy means of livelihood 
for themselves, and for their child if it should be orphaned ; 
not everybody would know it to be an artificial creation, 
nor could the child itself be blamed in any case. Perhaps 
this may be thought to be invention, or at least exaggeration. 
Not so. I have been told that it is literally true, and most 
assuredly some of the objects I have seen in native bazaars 
would seem to prove it. 

There is one thing to be said, natives of India certainly 
are extraordinarily kind to afflicted persons — too kind, some 
might think — keeping them alive as long as ever they can, 
against all reason and common-sense : witness the example 
at Hyderabad. Their very name for idiots is a beautiful 
one ; they call them ' God's animals ' ; and one and all 
vie with each other in their endeavour to serve the imbecile 
creatures. There is no jeering or stone- thro wing at the idiot 
boy or childish old man, such as every one must have seen 



232 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

nearer home. I have done so, and have thought that 
perhaps those natives, degraded in many ways as they are, 
strike a higher note than we. In these cases, however, very 
likely their consideration is partly due to a desire to pro- 
pitiate the Shaitan (devil) who brought the idiocy about. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 233 



CHAPTER XX 

Tigers : Madras and Bengal methods — Dog gets in tiger's way — Sleeping 
tiger — Tiger and wild boar compared — Fanny — Two ' near shaves ' — 
Mooniappa — Claws of panthers and tigers — A man-eater's patience 
— F. face to face with a man-eater. 

In Indian shikar, tiger expeditions are held by almost every- 
body to stand first, but that was not my husband's idea 
nor that of all his friends ; for I have listened to discussions 
between them, experienced shots every one, in which some 
declared for tiger as being the only sport worth the name ; 
others belittling it as, in many cases, no real sport at all, 
but a matter of beaters and clever dogs. F.'s own most 
highly prized trophies were his bison heads, which repre- 
sented to his mind the better sport, so wily, so patient must 
a man be who would circumvent a bull bison. 

As to tigers, the Madras way is to go after them on foot, 
that being possible there, as the grass never attains the great 
height that it does in Bengal, where elephants are used, 
the sportsmen being seated in howdahs on their backs. A 
tiger has been known to drag a man from his place, and an 
elephant to bolt when one has fastened on his flank, but 
such instances are rare ; for elephants can be brought to 
perfection here, as in everything else to which they are put, 
being trained to stand like statues, abiding the onslaught, 
guided by their mahouts — men who do not know fear. 

F.'s practice, on getting khvbber of a tiger, was to start 
out in a bamboo shooting-cart, a thing warranted never to 
upset. Not wishing to be selfish, if time permitted he would 
have asked a friend to accompany him ; he would also 
take a man to look after the spare rifles ; nor would the 



234 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

tiffin basket be forgotten. They would, perhaps, travel a 
couple of days in this way. Sometimes a dog or two would 
be with them — not always ; it depended on the sort of 
cover there might be and the ground to be traversed. We 
had eight spaniels, who were the smartest little dogs pos- 
sible for tiger ; they would so bewilder him by their im- 
pudent barking, leaping and snapping at his heels, that he 
did not know what to be at or which to attack, as there 
seemed to be no beginning or end to them. They knew, to 
an inch, how near they might venture to the death-dealing 
paw, a touch from which would have laid low any heedless 
one. That happened once. A very daring dog did get a 
blow on the hind leg, which rolled her over, but she was 
pluckily snatched up by a beater and borne away into 
camp, where the smashed leg was set. It mended in six 
joints, so was never of much use to her afterwards, as she 
could not stand on it, and trailed it along, though without 
pain. Her tiger days were, of course, over. She was none 
the less beloved for that ! 

On reaching the neighbourhood of the tiger's reputed lie- 
up, the cart would be left with the syce that the tracking 
might be done very warily on foot. Sometimes the tiger 
would be found at a moment when he was not being searched 
for, as once when F. and his friend were beetle-hunting. 
Fortunately the Mussulman peon with them, not so keen on 
beetles, had kept a lookout ; he stopped dead, and touched 
them silently, for there, barring their path, in the shade of 
a fallen tree trunk, lay a tiger, full stretched and sound 
asleep, taking his noonday siesta. 

To waken him the peon flung his slipper right in his face. 
The insult roused him, and he got on his feet, yawning and 
looking round to see whence the disturbance arose. The 
very instant his eyes fell on the three men and the rifles 
pointing at him his temper rose. He gathered himself to- 
gether, and with an earth-shaking roar made his charge, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 235 

but fell short, shot in air by F.'s friend, who as guest had 
been previously signalled to take first place. Had the aim 
been faulty, or the cartridge missed fire or jammed, as 
cartridges will, F.'s rifle was also ready, the trophy belong- 
ing in that case (according to sportsman law) to whichever 
of the two men drew first blood. But no need ; the rifle 
' spoke,' as the natives say, and its leaden message reached 
the tiger's brain through his eye, so that not a single hole 
marred the perfect skin. 

Men need to be steady at such work ; those who go afoot 
after tiger must have their armoury from within : a nerve 
that nothing can startle, pluck that never quails, hands that 
never tremble, eye and judgment that never miscalculate, 
and aim unerring — it is fatal to be second-rate in any of 
these things. 

Not that a tiger is such a very brave beast, rather the 
reverse ; for many a less magnificent animal could give him 
points. With his looks his kingly qualities end. The wild 
boar, hideous as he is, yet not without a savage grandeur 
of his own, is a foe much more to be respected. The tiger, 
if he miss his charge, will not renew it. Failure cowes him ; 
he slinks back, as it were, morally vanquished, so ashamed 
of himself is he. But the boar scorns hiding or skulking. 
Wounded to the death or not, he will come on and on again 
while there is breath in him, ripping up dog after dog, and 
men too. Never will he say die, nor does he know when he 
is beaten. He can wheel round in his own length, and, 
awkward as he appears, is as quick as lightning. Seldom 
does he die unavenged. You may get him at the finish, 
but at the cost of a dog or two ; for to a certainty, even if 
none are killed outright, there will be sorry, gaping wounds 
to be sewn up then and there if it can possibly be done. 
To minor scratches the game pack pay little heed, and 
straggle home limp enough if it has been anything of a 
tussle, but always on the alert till they may close their eyes 



236 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

by the camp fire, limbs and muscles relaxed, and resting 
while they dream of coming supper. 

One morning I was roused at three or four o'clock to get 
out needle and silk and carbolised dressings for a heroine 
who had been badly worsted in the fray. The account 
given me — that the boar lay dead, but in dying had ripped 
up this unwary dog — was so upsetting that I went with 
the messenger to learn if there were any hope. Only the 
hairy skin was actually touched, but that was cut as though 
with a knife by the boar's keen tushes ; the stomach itself 
was uninjured, or we could not have saved her. This was 
supported while every particle of earth and foreign substance 
was washed away, then replaced carefully, and the edges of 
the skin sewn together. I sat on the ground with her 
head and shoulders resting on my lap, so that her sides could 
be firmly pressed while the stitches were put in. Under 
this operation she never struggled, hardly winced, but kept 
as still as still could be, looking up and backwards at me 
now and again, though fixing her gaze mostly on F., who 
was always surgeon. Well she knew that the best possible 
was being done for her ; but a world of question lay in her 
eyes, as if she were wondering why she must suffer to minister 
to our pleasures — most pathetic had we not known that this 
dog, Fanny, apart from her accident, had been enjoying 
herself mightily ; for sport of any sort was always to her 
mind, and she was game to the core. 

The eyes of all dogs seem to suggest a sad outlook on the 
world from the deep sombreness of their expression, and 
this whether there be any reason for it or not. In the case 
of our dogs there certainly was none, and no one of them 
enjoyed life more thoroughly than did the hapless Fanny, 
temporarily placed hors de combat — for it was only tempor- 
arily. Great care had to be taken as to her food, which 
was the chief trouble, for she never lost appetite. Water 
was what she mostly craved for, and it was just the thing 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 237 

which she could, be given but sparingly ; nor could she be 
allowed any of her accustomed rice, that being too filling, 
so she had to be content with the best meat jellies. She 
would have recovered sooner than she did, only when almost 
well, and not so rigidly watched, she managed to get at 
something when the other dogs were feeding, and overate 
herself, so that the stitches burst out, and the rent had to 
be sewn up again. Things had quite righted themselves 
internally then — so complaisant sometimes is Nature — but 
outwardly all was now to do again, and the food-watch 
had to be redoubled. However, in the end she recovered 
completely, and lived to meet with the very same sort of 
mishap again, though wild boars being her special business 
(and pleasure) that was not so surprising, and this time she 
made an even quicker recovery. 

Another day — also when after pig — F.'s cartridge got 
fixed, that being the worst thing that can befall — at a crisis, 
too. He was caught and pinned to a tree by his clothes, 
and must have been ripped up himself next minute but 
for the timely intervention of his shikar companion and 
best-loved friend, who saved the situation by forcing his 
huge hunting-knife down the boar's throat. The animal did 
fall back at that, and received a bullet to finish. In the 
flash of an instant it had been judged unwise to fire, with 
F. and the boar so closely locked ; but the treacherous foot- 
hold of slippery, trampled grass affording no purchase 
made the knife stroke also hazardous, when the issue hung 
on the turn of a wrist, steeled though it was by the know- 
ledge that a swerve meant failure, and failure meant death, 
or at best frightful hurts, to both men. 

The same friend was in a fix himself once when they were 
out together from something going wrong with his rifle, 
and the panther they were after was upon them, all three 
struggling in a heap together, when F. managed to shove 
his Express between its jaws and down the throat, and so 



238 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

fired. It keeled over dead. Again the shave was a narrow 
one. 

When a man's weapon fails him, and it comes to grips, 
all the advantage is with the animal. Then woe to him if 
he has not a friend at hand ! Between this pair of friends 
there was none of the jealousy that is more apt to crop up 
in shikar matters than perhaps in anything else ; not that 
decent people would leave each other in the lurch, whatever 
their grievances might be, but men have been known to start 
out together amicably and to return separately — in a huff. 

Notwithstanding the many risks and dangers of shikar, 
fatal catastrophes are comparatively rare. Once, however, 
a trip was badly marred by a grievous accident. One of 
our people, Mooniappa 1 by name, having in the course of 
his life killed his panther, and never got over his pride in 
the achievement, had made himself a cap out of the fur. 
In spite of warnings to keep this cap out of sight when 
camping lest one fine day it should be the death of him, 
besides being upsetting to the younger dogs, he could not 
resist parading in it, till at last he did so once too often ; 
for Mr. 0. — a friend shooting with F. — catching a glimpse 
of panther hide through the leaves, blazed at it. It was a 
foolhardy thing to do in any case ; for had a panther been 
there, on feeling stung he would have speedily taken revenge, 
unless he had been quieted then and there for ever, the 
chances being a thousand to one against a head shot. But 
the bit of yellow and black fur dropped, and Mr. 0., seeing 
no stir, nor hearing the expected roar, made sure he had 
killed dead — as indeed he had. But his glee was short- 
lived, for on pushing through the bushes he found that the 
fur was only the cap on Mooniappa's head, and the man 
lay shot before him. He must have been going on his hands 
and knees — after something himself, perhaps — and it brought 
him near enough to panther level. Any one might have 

1 Mooniappa = son of Mooni ( Tamil). 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 239 

made the mistake Mr. 0. did ; the real wrong was in firing 
at all, haphazard. Besides, had a 'panther of the woods ' 
been there, and not a man, it would have been the height 
of folly to go and see what effect the shot had taken in that 
casual way ; for, though making no sign, and seemingly 
dead, it might only have been lying low. Leave such an 
animal alone, and you are safe ; wound him, and beware ! 
Unless prepared at all points, finger on trigger and luck 
on his side, a man who approaches rashly may count on a 
mauling if a pulse of life yet beat in his victim. All of 
which was explained to Mr. 0. for his good. Sometimes 
people do recover from such maulings, but very seldom if 
they have fallen under the claws of a panther, every claw 
being laden with pyaemia. Those of a tiger, on the con- 
trary, may score as deeply — clothes being a sorry protec- 
tion — even tear out the muscles and reach the bone, but 
there is no vice in them, so to speak ; they wound cleanly, 
and, given a good constitution, the hurt is quite likely to 
heal up without any consequences. The reason of this is 
that though both animals are cats, the one is a clean feeder, 
the other the reverse. Even the bite or scratch of the house 
cat is generally supposed to be fraught with risk owing to its 
fondness for unsavoury rakings. 

The son of a friend of ours lost his life in an encounter 
with a panther, being clawed down from a tree into which 
he had climbed after having, either from nervousness or 
inexperience, only succeeded in wounding the animal ; for- 
getting, too, or perhaps being unaware, that panthers can 
climb like squirrels. That is another reason why a man 
should be sure of himself before he adventures his life in 
their vicinity. A tiger will not climb a tree, but he has 
patience enough to wait at the foot till his quarry drops 
from fatigue and exhaustion, so there is little to choose 
between them. An example of the unwearying patience of 
the tiger was shown by the fate that befell a native shikari 



240 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

known to F., though his was not a case of climbing a tree 
as a last desperate and futile effort, nor of dropping ex- 
hausted from a place of safety. Nevertheless, he was waited 
for long and perseveringly. The man was a native of 
Kurnool, a huge district, to which my husband was gazetted 
later on as Forest Officer, in which the villages are widely 
scattered, vegetation sparse owing to a scanty rainfall, and 
game scarce. A water famine was the rule rather than the 
exception, and to alleviate the consequent distress a rich 
and benevolent Brahmin had had an Artesian well sunk, 
and a drinking fountain put up for the refreshment of way- 
farers, as the most lasting thank-offering he could make for 
a daughter's restoration to health. This fountain was a 
landmark for miles, and was placed just where many inter- 
secting tracks crossed the main road, the boon being much 
appreciated. But it happened once, during a season of 
special drought, that the refreshing water attracted one 
wayfarer who barred the road to all others, namely, a man- 
eating tiger. This creature, after having terrorised the 
country round in all directions, settled down here as his 
headquarters, the forest through which the road was cut 
affording him shelter enough, though he was not particular 
about hiding himself, for he had been seen to cross the open 
and lap his fill at the trough in broad daylight. The trough 
was of no use now to any one but him, for no one dared pass 
near it by day, far less by night. Thus, with all to his advan- 
tage, the tiger became so bold as to actually seize children 
and race off with them before people's eyes. Grown-up 
persons were also taken. He would show his dreadful face 
at the open doorways of village houses. Traps set ever so 
cunningly never deceived him, for no bait they could place 
in them was of a kind to tempt him, and dead bait would 
not do, even if of the right sort ; he preferred to do his own 
hunting, travelling miles in a night. When it is remembered 
that a tiger's beat is anything from fifty to seventy miles, 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 241 

and that he might be seen in the morning as far as that 
from the place where he was certified to have been the pre- 
vious evening, it can be readily understood that there was 
no telling his whereabouts at any particular moment. No 
man would work alone in the fields, and even parties kept 
watch on all sides, leaving off while the sun was yet high 
if they had any distance to go ; for their homes must be 
reached before dusk, when somewhere — who knew where ? — 
the enemy would begin to open his sleepy eyes, yawn, and 
stretch himself, preparing to scent around for his supper. 

At last things had come to such a pass that our shikari 
made a vow that it should be the tiger's life or his, and the 
drinking-trough settled the point as to where to set up his 
watch. It was overhung by a big shady tree, and amongst 
the screening boughs he had a commodious machan con- 
structed ; there he would live, without coming down, for a 
fortnight, taking with him food enough to last that time. 
Water he could draw up for himself. The tiger must come 
to drink, then would be his opportunity. But he never did 
come ! The depredations ceased ; not so much as a goat 
was missed, and that hollow roar which used to wake such 
fearsome echoes in the rocky ground about — no one heard 
that any more either. From the day that the devoted 
shikari stationed himself in the tree there was not a sign 
of the tiger ; so the people plucked up heart, even to fetch- 
ing water, and chatting with their hero, coming and going 
safely. ' Ah, it was a cunning tiger,' they said, ' and he 
had scented danger, perhaps he had even seen the man 
and his gun waiting for him, and had betaken himself while 
he might to safer quarters. The shikari's very presence had 
rid them of their enemy, and the water was now their own 
again ; for though a tiger could stand a long starvation, 
thirst he could not endure, and he would have to seek 
water. Everybody knew that, so no better proof was 
needed that he was really gone.' 

Q 



242 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

A fortnight and a day the man stayed up in the tree ; 
on that last day — the fifteenth — the people, who now came 
and went as they listed, were to bring him away and make 
much of him, for he had kept his word to them as far as he 
could ; so he climbed down to be ready for them, and stooped 
over the trough to take a drink. At that very instant, in 
the face of the approaching crowd of friends, the tiger 
came out from the edge of the forest, swung himself across 
the road, picked up the shikari in his jaws, and walked back 
with him to cover in a leisurely manner, not even taking 
the trouble to lay a paw on his prey. Numbed, paralysed, 
with his spine, perhaps, snapped, the man was carried off 
as limp as ever a dead mouse by a cat. All were agreed as 
to that ; also that not the faintest sound was heard then or 
afterwards. 

No one now dared dispute the tiger's right to the 
trough ; but, all unknown to him and to the unhappy 
people, the days of his career were numbered, for very 
shortly after this, while the tale was still fresh in men's 
minds and mouths, F. arrived to take up his appointment 
in Kurnool. 

To F. such an affair waiting for him to negotiate it was 
enough to make any ' desert blossom as the rose ' — and 
Kurnool was not much better than a desert in parts ; only, 
as I have said, it was a huge district. There was always 
plenty of work in a new charge, but that work, while follow- 
ing its ordinary and accustomed routine, was here spiced 
with the special zest of a possible lurking danger. This 
would not be to everybody's mind, nor was it, I believe, 
to that of all whose duties forced them to accompany their 
master wherever his business might take him. 

As a general rule, F. and others of kindred spirit who 
were with him, once the quarry at their feet, felt only regret 
that all was over, the acquisition of a trophy being a very 
secondary consideration. Here, however, the sooner an 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 243 

end the better, for one man-eater to a district was one too 
many. Still, it was passing strange, unless a case of toujours 
perdrix, that none of the usual stories as to this or that per- 
son being missing came in. A few head of cattle, goats, etc., 
disappeared, but these were losses to which everybody was 
used ; besides, such prey was not in this tiger's line. Pos- 
sibly he had betaken himself to some far distant part of 
the country where the people would not be so much on their 
guard against him, a sort of pulse he knew very well how 
to test ; or, better still, he might be dead. So it went on 
for quite two months, with complete dearth of news, and 
nothing done as far as the man-eater was concerned, and 
perhaps as a consequence vigilance was unconsciously re- 
laxed. Nevertheless, though nobody guessed it, things were 
getting into train. 

One afternoon, about four o'clock, F. and a peon, carrying 
a shot-gun apiece, went out to shoot pea-fowl, which were 
then coming daily in flocks to feed upon the ripening millet, 
a grain these birds are very fond of, and of which there was 
a field close to our camp. Beyond the field was a belt of 
forest, on the edge of which stood a number of charcoal- 
burners' huts, disused and ruinous, with the millet and high 
grass growing up close all round them. Into one of these 
F. and the peon went to hide and wait in silence for the birds 
and for their chatter to begin, there being plenty of peep- 
holes in the cracked mud walls through which they could 
watch unseen. They had not been waiting a quarter of an 
hour before they distinctly heard a low sound of purring 
close by, on the side of the hut farthest from the doorway. 
It was recognised simultaneously by both ; for when F. 
turned to the peon he saw him crouching in a corner, his 
face livid and his nerve completely gone, as he muttered, 
' Bagh, Sahib. Bagh ! ' (' Tiger, master. Tiger ! ') Tiger it 
was, and both instinctively knew that it was the tiger ; no 
other would have crept after them to stop alongside and let 



244 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

himself be heard in that deep, full purr of contentment — a 
cat's very own, with her prey under her paw. 

Listening intently in order to locate the sound, which 
was stationary, F. peered through the hole he judged to be 
opposite the spot whence it proceeded, and made out the 
face he expected to see in amongst, and all of a colour 
with, the blades and stalks of grass standing up round it, 
not three yards away. Noiselessly lifting his gun, he rested 
it on the broken edge of the hole, meaning to let drive on 
the least movement in the grass ; though but a charge of 
shot, it would be blinding at such close quarters. He then 
ordered the peon, rather brutally, but for his good, to ' get 
up instantly and go while the chance remained, otherwise 
he would leave him there to be eaten ; for the tiger knew 
there were two of them.' None of F.'s men ever doubted 
his word, or that he could and would do as he said, so the 
rough threat had its intended effect ; it got the peon, half- 
dead with fright, on to his feet, and sent him off. 

The man gone, F. felt more free. There was only one 
thing for him to do now — keep his eyes glued on a special 
blade of grass behind which lay his lurking enemy for as 
long as he could see it, at the same time backing himself 
out of the hut. He said afterwards that he never intended 
to fire unless forced to it, as a last and, as he knew, hazardous 
expedient ; besides, it was contrary to a sportsman's prin- 
ciples ever to disable an animal without following it up, if 
it could possibly be avoided, except in a case of dire neces- 
sity, with a human life at stake — one's own or that of another. 
He said, too, that all along, from the start, two thoughts 
were prominent in his mind : one of furious anger against 
himself for being caught in such a fix with no better weapon 
than a shot-gun, for it was just that that made it a fix at 
all ; had the double Express been in his hand instead, the 
1 fix ' would have been such a chance as a man need never 
hope to get twice in a lifetime. The other thought was of 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 245 

surprise that any animal so cute as a tiger should have 
shown less nous in his choice of position than an ordinary 
cat would have done. She would have watched at the 
mouse's hole ; it was a good thing that he did not. But 
then, again, was it really stupidity ? No tiger ever yet 
wanted for nous ; far more likely this one acted as he did 
as the outcome of crafty logic. A man-eater prefers to 
strike from behind ; he would never have entered the hut, 
fearing a snare, but intended to steal round when the prey 
was leaving to make his attack. 

It was quite a small hut, and with a few backward paces 
F. was out and able to breathe freely. He said that while 
in there the feeling of being trapped was unnerving to a 
degree that no danger in the open could have equalled ; so, 
keeping a sharp lookout to right and left, the gun steadily 
pointing and finger and eye ready, he ploughed his way back- 
wards through the millet, which stood so thick that it would 
have hidden anything that might have been following till it 
was awkwardly near — the knowledge of that fact adding its 
quota to the burden of an already overcharged mind. How- 
ever, camp was safely reached without sound or stir on the 
part of the tiger. In spite of this, F. said that his impression 
as to the creature's identity was unaltered. His proximity 
and self-assured purring were proof enough of his original 
intention. It was only misliking the look of the steel 
barrel facing him through the hut wall that made him 
change his mind, and when it seemed to be removed he 
probably shifted himself as soon as he dared, and stole away, 
just as he had come, with the tread of a cat. Therefore, to 
be quite fair, the despised shot-gun would seem to have 
done its part, like the mouse in the fable. 

Such was F.'s reading of an affair which occupied but an 
hour all told — a long hour, as he and the peon agreed ; and 
there must be few people who do not find out for them- 
selves at least once in the course of their lives how long 



246 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

an hour can be, when time seems independent of the 
clock. 

Talking things over afterwards in the security of the camp 
firelight, somebody remarked that it was ' a flattish ending 
to a promising start,' but F. said that he took it to be the 
beginning, not the ending, and that he felt keyed up to any- 
thing ; the tiger had only postponed himself, and he thought 
he would be heard of before long. His words were recalled 
later on by every one present. 

Next morning the peon's abandoned gun was fetched 
away from where it was lying on the ground of the hut, for, 
almost past carrying himself as the man had been, F. had 
not allowed him to carry his gun in nerveless hands that 
might just have contrived to precipitate matters, and bring 
hut and tiger about their ears. Of the tiger no trace was 
to be seen in evidence of yesterday's story beyond the line 
of crushed grass leading right up to the forest, which, so 
far, kept its own secret. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 247 



CHAPTER XXI 

Mode of progression with a man-eater about — A gruesome discovery 
— The man-eater's end — General rejoicings — Little herd-boys and 
tigers — Native shikaris — Murder under cover of tiger — Epicurism of 
tigers — Fate of a Brahmin — A mad gallop — A tiger and a father — 
Night in a machan — A mauvais quart d'heure — Trophies. 

Forest operations must obviously be carried out in forests ; 
so when a tiger of ill-fame is more than suspected of being 
about, it is necessary for the men engaged in them to take 
special precautions while moving from one part to another. 
The plan often adopted is that one leads the way, others 
place themselves in a double row back to back, and edge 
along sideways, while the one who brings up the rear walks 
backwards . Thus keen eyes range every avenue of approach . 
This was what they did now, F. generally being the end 
man ; but people cannot always move about in gangs, and 
work was hindered. Had he been alone, or with one choice 
companion, probably he would have enjoyed himself 
mightily, but not as it was ; for this tiger was becoming an 
incubus — the unknown quantity in all his plans and calcula- 
tions. And it was of no use to look for him ; that were only 
to search for the proverbial needle. The fact that no missing 
folk were reported was nothing to go by, or only negative 
proof at best. But things have their own way of coming 
about ; and while the man-eater was still to seek, in no 
one place more than another, one fine day he dropped into 
F.'s hands ! 

Riotous, indeed, was the tamasha * at sundown on that 
day, for the news spread like wildfire, and from far and near 

1 Festivities. 



248 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

the happy people came thronging in. The rejoicings began 
when their arch-enemy lay prone before them, and were at 
flood-tide with the skinning ; but I am going on too fast. 

That morning F., accompanied as usual by a peon, had 
set out on some forest work, both carrying rifles — there was 
no stirring anywhere without them now — and had not gone 
any farther than the charcoal-burners' huts when they 
suddenly came upon a tangled mass of very long black hair, 
and a quantity of coloured glass bangles, such as native 
women wear by dozens on their arms, lying broken and 
strewn about where they had been freshly vomited up. 
Moreover, a moment's look round showed where the grass 
had been pushed aside and pressed down by something 
being dragged over it ; a sickly odour, too, hung about the 
place. Following these indications, they presently dis- 
covered the half-eaten body of a woman. All question as 
to the tiger's whereabouts was thus answered in an instant. 
He was now within bow-shot, fast asleep, repleted — what 
they saw proved that ; he would come back for his next 
meal, though it was not bound to be that same day. If 
not roused he would perhaps sleep on into the next ; in 
any case, he was unlikely to stir for some hours. All was 
plain sailing now. F. and the peon having securely rigged 
up a machan with a good screen of branches all round it in 
a tree over against the ' kill,' and noted certain landmarks 
to ensure being able to find it again without mistake, went 
back to camp to supply themselves with food and drink 
in case they might have to spend the night in the machan ; 
for the less the ground were walked over the better. 

Astonishingly little fuss was ever made over these affairs. 
F. was sure of his rifles, sure of himself, and he would 
take care that only one who could be trusted shared his 
watch ; in this case it was the man who was with him in the 
morning. They started off again about three-thirty, so as 
to be beforehand, and found all as they had left it, only the 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 249 

odour was heavier in the burning heat — that was all. As 
a rule, when shooting from a tree, it was F.'s habit to mask 
all traces of footsteps with earth, leaves, etc., but here it 
was unnecessary ; there was enough of the human already. 
He confessed afterwards that they had found it desperately 
sickening to have the gnawed body lying below them 
awaiting a horrible sepulture, and he had sworn to himself 
that it should not be so if he could prevent it — nor was it ; 
they buried the poor fragments instead. 

Such plans do not always work out according to intention, 
but to-day the man-eater's ' number was up.' About five 
o'clock he appeared, and settled himself beneath the tree 
in placid good-humour and anticipation. As tigers go, this 
one was not especially handsome — his sort seldom are — but 
he was no more than full grown, with many years of nefarious 
life before him had he not come up against an Express 
bullet. 

Those in camp were near enough to hear one reverberating 
shot, which was not repeated ; and for them, in their un- 
certainty as to whether that shot had given the desired 
quietus, or whether the tables had perhaps been turned, 
the screw began to get unbearably tight. However, every- 
body knew ' before long,' as F. had prophesied ; knew, too, 
that the tiger lay harmless now beside his latest victim. 

Presently the body was slung to a pole and borne away 
in the midst of a crowd of wildly jubilant people, who, as 
soon as it was set down again in the camp, began reviling 
it, spitting at it, and slandering every one of his ancestors 
and relations after their usual fashion. 

No longer might the forest keep its secret ; convincing 
evidences, more than enough, came to light the very next 
morning, when it was searched over, that it had been, as 
was expected by then, a stronghold of the tiger for many a 
day. 

So long had this creature held the people in thrall that 



250 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

the new and unwonted freedom to move about anywhere — 
singly even if they chose, and as they seemed especially 
to rejoice in doing — had an almost intoxicating effect upon 
their spirits. Only those who know what it is to go in fear 
of their lives day after day, from whatever cause, can in 
the very least degree realise the relief of that burden 
lifted. 

Even when not a man-eater, a tiger must certainly be 
reckoned a fearsome beast. Most people would be afraid 
of him — nor ashamed to own it — but not all. Little naked 
herd-boys do not fear him ; on the contrary, he is afraid of 
them. A stick brandished in the hand of one of these fear- 
less imps will drive him off, and all the village riches, in the 
shape of goats, buffaloes, bullocks, etc., are given into their 
charge to see that they graze safely while possibly watched 
for by hungry eyes. These children sit about on the hill- 
sides, or on the arm of some solitary old dead tree, the better 
to see all round, playing on reed pipes and shouting shrilly 
to one another. As many as two hundred animals will very 
likely be under the care of one boy, and though it is not 
often that they have anything to do but play about, still 
they must never forget their business, which is to keep an 
eye on every one of the flock and prevent its straying too 
far. Nor do the animals themselves want for sense ; they 
know there is safety in numbers, and keep pretty close round 
their guardian ; while the marauders, too, know that they 
need be smart to catch a herd-boy napping. 

Merry, skinny little brown mortals are these herd-boys, 
clad in some six inches of rag, and with one tuft of hair 
left on the crown of their shaven heads, in recognition of 
caste or some religious rite. Armed only with a stick, they 
are set to protect their countless charges against cunning 
savage beasts. Did these beasts only know it, such babes 
could offer no more resistance to an attack than so much 
thistledown ; but happily they do not know it ; to them 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 251 

all human beings mean, if not bullets, arrows, traps, dangers 
of all sorts. 

Even should there be any suspicion of a man-eater being 
about, these fearless children are at their posts to drive him 
off by shouts and cries, knowing well that he would not be 
after the goats but themselves. They would be sent out, 
too, even if there were serious grounds for such suspicions ; 
the flocks must feed, and must be protected, and there is 
no one to protect them but these little fellows. Perhaps 
their mothers at home find comfort in the firm belief in 
Kismet, which all Eastern peoples hold — they have none 
other, poor things ! Perhaps, too, the boys themselves keep 
within closer call and sight of each other, and have their 
herds more massed together, if there be such talk. So it 
goes on for a while, and nothing happens. The man-eater 
will bide his time, till one fine day a little chap is missing ; 
then a child here and there out of the villages, or old people, 
or belated folk. A cry will be heard in the night perhaps, 
and such or such a one will never be seen again. That is 
what happens, and the terror grows in men's minds. All un- 
touched are the flocks and herds ; they might graze unguarded 
now ; it is not them for whom the man-eater lies in wait. 
For a while he gets what he is after by night, till the villagers 
become too much terrified to be abroad then ; but before 
long he takes toll by day. Some native shikari hears about 
it, and brings himself and his antiquated muzzle-loaders 
to the place. A notification is, perhaps, sent by him to the 
Forest or Police Officer of the district, and through him to 
the Government, who will, the shikari knows from experience, 
offer a small but growing reward for the destruction of the 
man-eater ; and, as might be expected, he considers it the 
proper thing to wait till the maximum be reached — a child 
or two more or less, or a feeble person, would matter little. 
Were that maximum offered at the outset a week would 
probably see the end of the tiger, for more than one shikari 



252 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

would be on his track. As it is, villages are allowed to be 
decimated and a whole countryside panic-stricken, some- 
times for a year or more, before the career of the man-eater 
is stopped ; not at all, as has been suggested, through faint- 
heartedness on the part of the shikaris. Whatever their 
faults, they do not lack courage ; they only act in accord- 
ance with human nature. The ill-judged system of rewards, 
and nothing else, is the real cause of the long continuance 
of such a scourge ; yet the Indian Government does not 
seem to have grasped the fact. As recently as 18th December 
1909 a paragraph appeared in the Daily Mail stating that 
the Government reward had been raised from £16 to £70 
in the space of three years for the slaying of a tiger still 
ravaging the villages of Gam jam, and that during that time 
he had killed upwards of a hundred and fifty people. How 
English sportsmen came to leave him alone at his hideous 
work it is hard to understand, for it is not to be supposed 
that the increased reward would be any incentive in their 
case ; neither can it be possible that they would be afraid 
to hunt up the man-eater — at any rate, it used not to be so. 

Then, again, it has happened before now that after the 
Government reward had been paid away, children and others 
were still carried off, the native champion having been so 
fortunate — ' God is good,' he would say — as to light upon 
some other, and comparatively harmless, tiger that would 
serve his turn. He would shoot that, and produce the skin 
as his proof at the Kutcheri. One skin being much like 
another, to claim the reward and get it, none disputing his 
right, was simple enough. At the worst, he could always 
ask : ' How was he to know it was not the one wanted ? 
Besides, there might be two man-eaters about,' which, if 
unlikely, was not impossible ; ' he would go out again.' 

Even a man-eating tiger may be slandered, and not seldom 
may the disappearance of unwanted people be conveniently 
accounted for by laying their death at his door, if the real 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 253 

culprit be careful not to describe him as having been in one 
place at the same time that he had been seen in another. 

Regarding the epicurism of tigers in general endless tales 
are told. Work-worn, sinewy old bullocks may go safely, 
so far as they are concerned, as long as better are to be 
had. And it is the same with human beings : anything may 
do at first, but not when a tiger gains practice and discern- 
ment ; then his daring passes belief, for he will carry off 
one person from amongst dozens of others. Of this a notable 
instance is said to have happened in Coorg. An enormously 
fat Brahmin gentleman had occasion to go upon a journey 
through a district suspected of harbouring a tiger of evil 
repute. This journey, it would seem, was imperative, so 
he engaged two or three local shikaris to travel with liim ; 
also, for greater safety, instead of being carried in a litter, 
as became his rank, he had a travelling-carriage built, 
according to his own directions, of teak-wood strengthened 
with iron, and covered in with heavy wooden lattice- work. 
An army of attendants were bestowed in coaches and carts, 
and he saw to it that of all the drivers his was the leanest — 
one for whom a tiger would only feel contempt ; his coach, 
too, must be in the very middle of the procession, as pre- 
sumably the safest place ; then, when everything had been 
thought of and arranged with a sole view to his protection, 
and he himself ensconced behind his barricades, the party 
set out. Yet, notwithstanding his precautions, the Brahmin 
himself was the very man to be picked out from amongst 
them all. A tiger came out of the forest and sprang upon 
the coach, sending woodwork and lattice flying ; he then 
dragged his prey out of it, and made off before anything 
could be done to stop him. Though I cannot vouch for the 
truth of this story, it is quite in accord with both Brahmin 
and tiger character, and was never called in question. 

At one time we knew a young man whose business it was 
to superintend the making and upkeep of roads, bridges, 



254 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

etc. He was not of the riding sort, and felt happier boxed 
up in a bullock-coach, or even jolted along in a country 
cart, than when forced by unkind circumstances to trust 
himself on a horse's back. Unluckily for him, the nature 
of his profession often took him into eerie places, bristling 
with that promise of adventure and novelty which is as the 
breath of life to some, but only inspired him with horror. 
He was not to blame. His bump of caution was so largely 
developed that a timely visit to a phrenologist might have 
saved him from being pitchforked into such a very unsuit- 
able environment, as perhaps it would do in the case of 
a good many others. Exactly what happened on a certain 
tour which he was making in the course of his duties could 
never be learnt, there being no witness. All that was known 
was that the bullocks, with the coach he was travelling in 
hanging on somehow, came to a standstill of their own 
accord in the first village they reached, bearing all the 
evidences of frantic effort impelled by terror. Blood was 
spurting from their nostrils, and they were almost broken- 
winded, falling down from exhaustion the instant they 
stopped — but safe ! A dog that had been his master's 
coach companion (taken, it was rumoured, to be thrown 
as ' a sop to Cerberus ' in case of attack by the way) 
stumbled in, absolutely spent, his sides and feet torn and 
bleeding from the flints and thorns encountered in his 
headlong race — he was safe too ! And the driver ? There 
was none ; but there was blood on the box and on the wheels, 
in the spokes of which some rags were caught. The poor 
fellow had evidently been dragged away to his death. And 
the young gentleman himself ? Well, he was safe too, and 
lying on the floor of the coach in a swooning condition, with 
his undischarged rifle beside him. That betrayed him. He 
had not raised a hand to succour his poor servant, exposed 
to attack, and without means of defence. 

How it happened that the bullocks arrived as they did 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 255 

with the coach still on its wheels was a wonder, for the 
route they had taken was easily traced. Knowing that 
they could not have moved through the forest, they had 
kept all the time to some sort of cart-track, choosing that 
leading most directly to a village ; and this although it 
was dark and the ground was quite new to them, their 
instinct, or maybe their sense of smell, guiding them towards 
human habitations and security. 

How long the stalking of that coach had been going on 
none can say, but at any rate the end must have come 
very swiftly at the last. The tiger would take good care 
to keep well to windward of the bullocks, stealing after 
them cautiously, all unsuspected till alongside and his 
destined prey within reach. Then, once the keen-nosed 
bullocks smelt tiger, nothing could restrain them ; they must 
have broken into a maddened gallop at the same instant 
that the spring was made upon their driver. 

Can any moment be more awful than that in which such 
a victim first perceives his doom close upon him, in the form 
of something pacing beside him with noiseless footfall, 
glaring up at him, perhaps, before he makes his spring ? 
For he must know that these are the last seconds of his life 
— one pang of mortal agony, and then, pray God, uncon- 
sciousness. However, no one who has not gone through 
such an experience can realise it, so it is vain to speculate. 
Happily the agony must be short — that is the only comfort. 
The result of this affair was that not a man would remain 
in the service of that Doray, neither would any others enter 
it. Therefore, as in India existence is not possible to Euro- 
peans without servants, he could no longer stay there ; 
besides which, public opinion, very frankly expressed, would 
have taken him long to live down. So he was driven to 
resign the service, which suited him no better than he 
suited it. 

Tigers have their moods. This, a story told us by a friend 



256 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

— a Mr. L. — will show. He said that once when he was 
staying at a hill station in Northern India — its name I have 
forgotten — he managed to twist his ankle when taking a 
stroll one evening, and sat down by the roadside to wait 
till some person should pass, who would either get help for 
him or give him a lift. A man with a bullock-cart was the 
first to come along, and with his help he clambered into the 
back of it. A little boy was sitting in front. Presently 
the moon rose, bright as day, showing up everything clearly. 
With sharp angles at intervals, there were long straight 
stretches of road ; a wall of rock rose on one hand, and the 
precipitous hillside sloped away on the other, a bushy, 
grassy bank serving for parapet. As they were crawling 
up a steep gradient the driver remarked quietly and coolly 
that he saw a tiger lying on the bank a little farther up, 
his head their way, so that he must also see them ; he 
thought they had better go straight on without change of 
movement. Mr. L., looking through the cart, saw that it 
was as the man said : a tiger was lying there quite at his 
ease, watching their approach. In a moment or so they 
were abreast of him, and it would have been only natural 
if the bullocks had bolted either then or sooner, but they 
simply padded past without looking to right or left, or 
showing the least sign of fear. The mat cover of the cart 
momentarily hid the tiger from their view, but when he was 
again visible — through the back end now — he had not 
changed his attitude. He never moved, beyond turning his 
grand head slowly to gaze after them, as might a friendly 
old cow in a pasture ; and though the moonlight shadows 
presently veiled his body, his eyes glowed like lamps, and 
were clearly seen for quite a long distance after they had 
left him behind. Mr. L. told us he did not know what he 
had expected to happen — something surely ; but nothing 
whatever did happen. On asking the driver what he would 
have done if the tiger had sprung upon his bullocks, he 




A Bullock Cart on the Ghat. 



li'iele &■ A'.Wv, Photo. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 257 

received the astounding reply : ' Flung the boy to him 
before that ! ' ' Whose boy was it ? ' ' Mine.' The little 
nine-year-old fellow sat quite unmoved at these questions 
and the man's callous replies, just as he had done through 
the ordeal of the last ten minutes, showing all the apathy 
of a born fatalist — the inheritance of his race ; not because 
he was either stupid or blind, for he and his (to our ideas) 
singular parent had jabbered unceasingly till the tiger 
appeared on the scene, but merely because it is the habit 
of their lives to take whatever comes. Such lives are 
beyond our comprehension, and must remain so until they 
be drawn into the net of some humanising influence. Mr. 
L. said he should forget all else of that evening's uncanny 
experience sooner than the father's hideous answer ; indeed, 
animal and man alike had quite upset his erstwhile notions 
as to what was to be expected of a tiger or a father. 

One of my weirdest experiences was sitting up all night 
in a machan with F. watching for a tiger which did not 
come ; we only heard him or some other tiger roaring in a 
muttering, under-his-breath sort of way from hour to hour, 
sometimes farther off, sometimes nearer. Very chilly, 
cramping work it was, too, waiting for the night breeze to 
rustle the leaves around us now and again, that under cover 
of the sound we might shift our position and relieve our 
stiffened limbs. It would have been no use to choose a wild, 
blustering night, for we had to listen too. Not that I 
should have put any faith in my own hearing when it was 
a question of tiger ; nevertheless, in the kind of life we led 
the senses do learn to interpret even the very silences. 

On another occasion — an especially bright night — when 
we were perched up in the nearest suitable tree to the ' kill,' 
the expected quarry, a panther, did not come, but a tiger did ; 
moreover, chose our tree to sharpen his claws on, standing 
on his hind legs to do it, exactly as pussy does. He saw us, 
and seemed inclined to await our descent, so there was no 

R 



258 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

help for it but to dislodge him, or he might have gone his 
way in safety, so regal did he look, with the moonlight 
showing up every bar and stripe on his coat. 

Much more uncomfortable was the experience of a friend 
of mine, who told me how she had once passed a very 
mauvais quart d'heure, when, something having gone wrong 
with the howdah or the elephant, she was wrapped in a green 
cloth and set down amongst some bushes in the jungle, 
while the rest of the party went away after a wounded tiger. 
She heard a single shot, that sound which, as already said, 
gives rise to such unnerving feelings of suspense in a mere 
listener. However, in due time they came for her. The 
shot had taken effect. 

When a dead tiger was brought into camp close watch 
had to be kept lest the whiskers should be filched, a tiger's 
whiskers being considered invincible charms against every 
misfortune under the sun. Several of F.'s best trophies 
had to be furnished with whiskers of stiffened horsehair 
by reason of such spoliation. 

Not a trophy F. had — a head, or horns, or skin — but had 
its story, remembered to the veriest details ; the stories, too, 
of many he had not secured, clean misses from some cause 
or another, no man being infallible, and the wild things very 
wary and fleet ; and so they need be, with their own powers 
all they have to pit against the tiny pellet of lead on the 
man's side. Occasional bad shooting is one thing, mere 
bungling quite another, though even bunglers generally 
have sense enough to know that the skin of an animal 
which they have shot at rather than shot is a piece of 
evidence to be suppressed, and are content to buy their 
trophies, weaving quite clever yarns about them too. We 
have listened to a few such tales ourselves. 

A Governor of our Presidency, no sportsman himself, at 
the end of his five years of office repeatedly asked my 
husband to let him buy his entire collection for his English 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 259 

home, offering him a sum quite disproportionate in magni- 
tude to its monetary value. F. declined absolutely, saying 
that every item in its degree more or less represented to 
him his own life ; to sell would be like selling his own flesh 
and blood, and that he could not. I only mention this 
to show the estimate some men put upon trophies of their 
own getting. At the same time one could give ; and that 
F. did willingly, asking our guest, as he was that morning, 
to choose two or three — whatever he most fancied. These 
were two tiger skins finely set up with the heads on, a couple 
of bison heads, and, I think, an elephant's foot or two. 
Neither did they leave any perceptible gaps, so large was 
the collection. 



260 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER XXII 

A solitary week — Rollo — Huts described — A night prowler — A dark 
night and a pitched battle — A tiger's tactics with bison — Herd-boy 
drives off tiger — A foggy night — A tiger's mistake — Ibex kids. 

It was our custom during the hot weather to camp for two 
or three months in the hills, where there was always plenty 
of inspection work to be done. It happened once or twice 
when we were there that P. was recalled to Coimbatore, 
our headquarters, to meet his chief, which would necessitate 
a week's absence at shortest ; so I had to choose between 
going down with him into the throbbing, airless heat of the 
plains or remaining in cool comfort all by myself — servants 
and camp people not counting in my sense, though it could 
not strictly be said that I should be alone. Neither alter- 
native was at all to my fancy ; but F. had no choice, he had 
to go ; moreover, he could get over the journey there and 
back a great deal quicker without me. If I went it would 
give additional trouble all round ; the toil of bringing me 
up had been arduous enough, with all that was possible done 
to ease it. Besides, we should be leaving camp in about 
two months' time, so common-sense won the day ; but I 
was very glad when that week was over. 

The last thing F. said before leaving was to his best friend 
among the dogs, Rollo, a native hound with a nose that 
never lost a trail, a silent tongue, and tireless feet. Rollo 
was brought into our sleeping hut, shown his corner by the 
door, where a bed was laid for him, and told to look after 
me. He understood perfectly ; he looked steadfastly in 
his master's face and listened while he was being talked 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 261 

to, then left him, and laid himself down by me with his nose 
along the ground, moving his fragmentary tail ever so slowly 
the while, and thus ratifying the trust. 

Rollo was a dog so little given to caresses or frolics that 
he might have been misjudged to be surly, but he could 
always be reckoned on. The other dogs might or might 
not be fidgety, he never was. He knew when he could let 
himself go to sleep with both eyes shut, and when it must 
be with one open. So long as he lay unconcerned no one 
need watch or worry, but if he bayed they might be sure 
it was not for nothing. As to looks, he was ugly as some 
count ugliness, being drab-coloured with black patches, 
and scarred all over ; crop-eared, too, on one side, having 
been worsted in one of a hundred frays. Moreover, being 
the sort of shaped dog needing a tail to finish him off sym- 
metrically, he had lost his. A horse had trodden on it, and 
with F. away when the mischance occurred, perhaps the 
hurt was improperly treated ; however, when he was told 
of it on his return prompt indeed was his surgery, for after 
a short scrutiny he pushed a flat stone under the wounded 
tail, and in another second had it off ! Rollo stood up, 
ran round himself two or three times, and straightway forgot 
all about it, the wound healing very soon, with light dressings 
to protect it from flies, which last had aggravated the 
original hurt. 

No money could have bought Rollo. Some one once said 
in our hearing that he was ' mean-looking.' A less appropri- 
ate adjective could not have been found, nor was it ever 
pardoned the speaker, who after all had only proved himself 
an ignoramus in dogs and dog faces by his remark ; the truth 
being that this dog was especially magnanimous, showing 
it at any distribution of bones or tit-bits, when he would 
stand aside, letting who would snatch away his share — by 
no means because he could not look after himself, but 
because he knew so well he could. His ways being known, 



262 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

however, Rollo was none the loser. Such was the fine old 
fellow, my bodyguard during his master's absence. 

The huts we were living in up here were of split bamboo. 
The bamboos — a very large sort, five or six inches across — 
were struck on the joints with a heavy mallet, splitting 
them along their whole length ; they were then flattened 
out and interlaced, forming very strong, hurdle-like walls 
which were impervious to rain, the shiny side being placed 
outwards, and the whole very closely set. On foggy or 
cold nights dhurries l were hung round inside. The thatched 
roofs were very thick, with wide eaves, and round the huts 
were deep trenches, as it rained heavily at times. In this 
connection I may mention a simple yet ingenious native 
contrivance for catching the (in some places) most precious 
rain-water. Large bamboos are split once, and arranged 
in graduated lengths on a slant, and askew, in suchwise as 
to carry it by so many converging streams into the receptacle 
below. In countries where they grow bamboos seem to be 
wanted at every turn and for every purpose. 

When F. went down the weather was bright and the 
nights were not cold enough for the dhurries to be wanted, 
so through the interstices of the hut-sides I could see the 
red glow of the camp fire round which the men taking turns 
to watch spread themselves like the spokes of a wheel, 
now and again stirring the logs into flame with their bare 
feet to warn night prowlers to keep their distance. 

Much preferring the noisiest songs and merriment to 
silence, I had seen that every one was provided with 
luxuries ad libitum, but they only went to sleep the sooner 
for their happy evening ; and presently the camp became 
profoundly still, not an eye in it open except my own and 
those of the watchers, while to my wakeful nerves the forest 
around was full of exaggerated sound, though it might be 
only the cry of a night bird or the creaking of a bough. I 

1 See p. 24, chap. ii. 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 263 

even wished that Rollo would keep awake for company, so 
did his quiet breathing deceive me — to my comfort and best 
assurance. But in that very wish I was wronging him ; 
for with him, to be on guard was not to sleep, and, true to 
his trust, while others slept — dogs and all — he lay awake, 
listening, to make sure before ever he spoke. He could 
smell, too, for towards morning, while it was still dark, I 
for the first time heard a rustling in his straw, followed by 
a low growl ; he seemed to stand up, and then he bayed 
loudly. That same instant I heard something, and felt it 
too, just at my head, my cot being close up to the hut-side ; 
and Rollo was beside me in one bound, going nearly mad, 
baying, barking, howling all at once, and pressing his nose 
up against the partition, a mere matter of half an inch or 
so between inside and outside. On touching him I found 
that he was quivering all over, with every hair stiffened 
in rage at something just outside that was quite audibly 
snuffing and breathing through the bamboo laths. It was 
only a second or two really, I suppose, but it seemed an 
age. Then the intruder moved on, and Rollo rushed back to 
the door (as I could hear, though it was too dark to see), 
using his best endeavours to tear it down, but it had been 
well made of wired bamboo, and stood firm. Nothing would 
try to get in that way, I was sure, so I was only fearful lest 
the door should give way before Rollo's frantic tugging. 
However, long before this, the uproar in camp was enough 
to scare off anything — men shouting, and dogs barking them- 
selves hoarse to be let out. There was no pacifying Rollo, 
who was not used to being shut up when anything so much 
to his taste was going on out of doors. But the exciting 
cause was far enough off by now, and the people were coming 
round with lanterns to tell me what they proposed doing, 
namely, to search for footprints, and if, as suspected, they 
proved to be those of a tiger, to cut out the square of earth 
bodily for exhibition to the Doray on his return, in proof 



264 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

positive of the presence of our visitor. Otherwise it was 
possible that he might think the affair had been magnified, 
perhaps even mistrust Rollo's nose ; but the pugs could not 
be gainsaid. It turned out to be as they had guessed. The 
footprints were found in a perfectly distinct succession up 
to and round the two sides of my hut, the truth being that 
the tiger, happening to pass our neighbourhood in the course 
of his perambulations, had ventured to look round, the 
fire perhaps being low and everything quiet, and after 
stopping a moment to snuff at the appetising morsels so 
near him, had stolen round past the door ; but Rollo's 
baying had let him know that he was scented out, so he 
quietly took the hint and slunk off, careful of his own safety 
before everything. 

That was the one and only incident that marked this 
dreaded week, except that a sambur stag ' belled ' one night, 
and Rollo showed how completely he was to be relied upon 
for discrimination. Being wakeful, I was reading, and heard 
the musical note ring through the air ; so did he, for he lifted 
his head, and pricked up his ears to listen, then laid his cheek 
down again with a comfortable sigh. He knew it was no 
concern of ours, nor of any moment, except in so far that a 
stag, having winded something, had ' belled ' to apprise or 
warn his herd. It is a clear, loud note, repeated at intervals, 
and frequently heard during the mating season. 

One pitch-dark night after F.'s return we were sitting up 
late, waiting for the outbreak of a storm that was travelling 
towards us, both of us being so happily constituted, as we 
considered, as to downright revel in a thunderstorm. The 
rest of the camp was wrapped in slumber, not a sound any- 
where, till a faint cry close at hand broke upon the midnight 
quiet — the tremulous ' mooing ' of a bison calf which had 
somehow got separated from its mother, and finding itself 
alone, lifted up its voice to call for her. Then came the quick 
response, vibrating with pleasure and reassurance, the baby 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 265 

1 moo ' piping up shrilly and quaintly in imitation of her 
deep-chested, organ-like note, the which — all in an instant — 
changed to an angry bellow. Almost simultaneously was 
heard the savage, echoing roar of a tiger. Such was the 
overture to the grandest, the most wonderful concert of 
forest- voices ears could ever listen to. The tiger, in search 
of prey, had come across the calf, made sure of it, and was 
confronted with its mother instead. We heard her furious 
bellowing, and the pawing of her hoofs as she tore and 
ploughed up the earth, beating him off with lowered head 
and threatening horns, all of which we could well picture 
just as it must have been taking place. At the same time, 
and, as it seemed, at our very feet, were heard the tiger's 
infuriated roars as he bounded from side to side in his 
baffled attempts to spring on her neck from behind the 
shoulder — his usual method — with the idea of weighting her 
down and disabling her, so that he could drag away the 
calf from beneath her body ; her efforts, meanwhile, being 
all bent on covering it. And we had pictured it all truly, 
for we afterwards found the calf's tiny hoof-prints amongst 
her broad ones ; not many of them either, showing how still 
the terrified little creature had kept. 

It much distressed us to know that bison and tiger must 
fight it out, the night being so inky black that F. could do 
no good by attempting a rescue. Impossible as it was to 
distinguish anything with certainty, had he interfered he 
might only have wounded one or other, thus making matters 
worse. 

With such sounds of battle within earshot the dogs could 
not be expected to hold their tongues, and their resonant 
voices contributed to the confusion of noises that woke the 
echoes. Moreover, in the thick of it all, without our having 
noticed a change in wind or sky, a hurricane sprang up 
which would have whirled off our thatches but that they were 
made to withstand such onslaughts, while boughs and old 



266 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

trees gave way and went crashing down all around us. 
Nothing heeded those two below, and the awful combat went 
on with unabated fury. When the wind dropped for an 
instant's lull we heard it more plainly, wishing much that 
we could see it as well, but I never remember such another 
night of Egyptian darkness. A black pall hung over every- 
thing, and that in itself must woefully have increased the 
difficulties of the bison, who could only follow the tiger's 
manoeuvres by scent, whereas it was no hindrance to his 
cat's eyes — he could probably see where they all were. 

In a moment or two the storm broke in good earnest 
over our heads ; then, what with the lightning flashes, which 
seemed to split the heavens, the artillery of the thunder, 
the enraged bellowing and roaring of the combatants, the 
barking of the dogs, and the noise of falling trees, echoed 
and re-echoed by the forest and the hills around, all the 
Furies seemed let loose, the whole being rendered doubly 
impressive by the dense and rayless gloom momentarily lit 
up with arrows and streaks of darting, rose-coloured light. 
But words are inadequate to describe it. I can only say 
what was going on in those awe-inspiring moments, and leave 
it for others to imagine if they can. As the storm continued 
a tree-trunk, seemingly at our very elbows, was struck by 
a flash of lightning and riven from top to bottom, with a 
report sudden and sharp as of ten thousand pistols ; but 
nothing checked or interrupted those two below. For 
nearly an hour they must have faced each other — the bison 
mother, frenzied with her instinct to defend her offspring, 
and the raging tiger, baffled, kept off, while perhaps famished 
and half-mad with hunger — the note of fury vibrating in 
each voice. Speak we could not, nor was there a human 
sound tp be heard — all were awestruck. 

How earnestly we hoped that strife would end in victory 
for the bison ! Powerless to help in the dark, with the least 
breaking of the clouds it would have been impossible for 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 267 

F. to remain inactive, but there was no need. It did end 
as we hoped. The mother-passion lends force to the 
feeblest, and when allied to the mighty strength of a bison 
is well-nigh invincible. Indeed, the tiger must have been 
very hard set to try odds with her at all. 

That he was beaten off we knew ; for at length his roars 
dwindled to disappointed growls and snarls, frightful 
enough, too, but gradually lessening to indistinct mutter- 
ings as he retreated. 

For a while the victorious mother and her trembling little 
one stayed where they were, for we could hear her soothing 
it, another note now in her voice, and fury dying out. No 
doubt she was spent, too, poor thing ! her build being so 
different from that of her opponent ; while he, with his 
lithe, agile body, could leap sideways or upwards or back- 
wards untiringly, she, with her huge bulk, had enough to 
do to stand her ground in one spot, with the calf under her 
for safety, and if he came within reach to receive him on 
impaling horns. She knew, as we did, that the tiger was 
vanquished, not to return ; a beaten tiger is beaten, and 
owns it by taking himself off, given the chance. All was 
therefore quite safe now, and she must get back into the 
herd. To do this she lowed repeatedly, the herd replying, 
many voices at a time ; so, as that was the last we heard 
of them, we concluded that they all met and trooped off 
together. 

In the morning we went down to view the scene of the 
duel, which, except for an intervening rock or two, was 
plainly visible from where we had sat listening, spellbound ; 
one might have thrown a stone on to the spot, so near was 
it. If ploughshares had gone over the ground it could not 
have been more deeply broken up, but only within a clearly 
defined area, the earth being flung yards distant. Not a 
blade of grass or a shrub was left, but neither was there the 
least sign of blood or hairs, and it was a relief to know that 



268 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

though the bison had won a signal victory, it was also a 
bloodless one. 

A tiger's tactics with a full-grown bison are, in the first 
place, to get between it and the main body of the herd, 
and then to stalk it and stalk it tirelessly, allowing it neither 
rest nor sleep by day or by night, it being as natural for a 
tiger to cover leagues during the night as it is for the other 
to sleep. At length, too weary to travel farther, the 
hunted creature falls, and is soon overpowered. Even before 
it actually sinks the pursuer can leap on to its neck, and 
hanging there suck out the life-blood ; for the exhausted 
bison cannot shake off the incubus, and has perforce to 
give up its struggle for life, fortunate if it be indeed dead be- 
fore being devoured piecemeal. Once on the track, a tiger 
will never relinquish his quest till one or the other be 
worsted, and that is generally the bison — possibly a bull. 
Not even his grand strength can hold out against the 
effects of that sleepless week or even fortnight. In one 
case we knew for certain that the pursuit had lasted a 
fortnight. 

As to the height of a cow bison I am not sure. F. never 
shot one, nor would any true sportsman do so except by 
accident, or if he were attacked. A bull may stand twenty 
hands at the withers ; that would be a splendid fellow, a 
hand being four inches wide. The largest secured by F. 
measured nineteen hands three inches, and comparing it 
with the height of a big dray-horse, which is about seven- 
teen hands, the tremendous bulk of a bull bison can be 
imagined. One that reached twenty hands fell to a friend's 
gun, but F. had many a trophy of nineteen. Smaller 
specimens he did not trouble to get — a matter he could 
gauge by eye. 

The very next evening after that pitched battle several 
of our bullocks and milch-goats were feeding well within 
sight, when the little chap in charge of them, who had been 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 269 

playing to himself on a sort of pipe, but was none the less 
mindful of his duty for that, suddenly sprang to his feet 
and tumbled almost headlong down the hill, waving his tiny 
arms and yelling at the top of his voice, not for help, he 
being equal to any such contingency, but at the object 
he had seen ; we were in time to see, too, but hardly more 
than a whisk of a tiger's tail as he was chased off. That 
done, the urchin threw after the prowling enemy and his 
ancestors every bad name he knew — and he knew many — 
then squatted himself down at the edge of the bit of wood, 
the better to protect his charges on the hill above him, 
not with any idea of sacrificing himself on duty's shrine, 
but that, there being no man-eater about, he knew he was 
in no danger. 

How soon these children learn their lesson I don't know, 
but they begin to be herd-boys in very early life, many not 
being above five or six years old. Their independence and 
almost impudent bravery, with their sublime unconscious- 
ness of anything of the kind, had a special appeal for us, 
and the stock of metais for them was kept up as carefully 
as that of the luxuries of chewing tobacco, etc., for our 
regular camp retinue. 

It was during this tour that a curious incident occurred 
one evening when everything was enveloped in rolling mist, 
the fire itself appearing but a red spark except to those 
close round it. A sambur stag was heard to ' bell,' then again 
nearer, and a third time close by ; for almost at the same 
instant he galloped through the very midst of the encamp- 
ment, a tiger full pelt after him. Both loomed huge through 
the fog, but were very indistinctly seen — as might be astral 
forms veiled in grey — just cleaving a passage, though we 
caught a glimpse of branching antlers as the gallant stag 
sped past. Both were come and gone in a flash, taking 
everybody's breath away. Examination by lantern light 
showed their footprints towards the camp, through it, and 



270 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

beyond for some little distance, till the ground became too 
stony to reveal anything. There was no knowing how that 
chase ended, except that a stag being even fleeter than a 
tiger, and taking risky leaps where the other would 
hesitate, the chances were at least equal, if not quite in 
his favour. 

Tigers were pretty plentiful in this neighbourhood — they 
generally are in a good game country — and their coats in 
the pink of condition, at the expense of that same game. 
One evening F. walked into camp followed by the beaters 
carrying two tigers slung to their poles as the day's ' bag,' 
and though satisfied not to have lost his time, his pleasure 
was not nearly so great as was his disappointment on another 
day, when two tigers gave him the slip, getting clean away, 
though he had come up with them close enough to be sure 
there were two by their diverse markings, the face of one — 
evidently an old fellow — being greyish, while the other was 
in his prime. That they were still to shoot afforded no 
comfort ; the sting lay in the fact that both had got the 
better of him. 

In an earlier chapter I mentioned that F. was at one 
time engaged in catching ibex alive in this same Coimbatore 
district, and it was, in fact, owing to the presence in camp 
of these creatures, with their overpowering, goaty odour, 
that we were nearly being sacrificed to a tiger's mistake. 
That he really did only make a mistake F. felt sure. Still 
it was one which, if not rectified in time, might have landed 
us beyond further concern in the matter. 

The day's toil was over — for toil that ibex-snaring was — 
and all was quiet, it being the hour before dinner. It was 
getting dark, but hardly dark as yet, with enshrouding mists 
rolling up and making camp snugness seem all the more 
alluring. (We were in tents this time, it being a wandering 
tour.) Although the people with us were so numerous, 
the usually chattering crew were too much engrossed for 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 271 

talk, -watching and stirring the pots 1 on the crackling stick 
fires — the talk would come afterwards, never fear ! 

Wedged in amongst the cooks and their willing helpers 
were the dogs, for the most part quietly happy too, inhaling 
the rich, appetising steam — an earnest of what was to come, 
with only a low whine at intervals from some more impatient 
one who could not brook the delay, being unable to gauge 
the progress of his supper by peeping and peering as the 
human assistants could do. 

Our dinner was cooking, too, and we ourselves were sitting 
close to the tents on a great heap of moss watching a pretty 
sight on the opposite hillside, where the grass had been 
fired, and the surface was charred and burnt quite black all 
over except where red, smouldering lines of light ran in and 
out, twisting and turning like fiery serpents. But while 
this was interesting me in a mild way, something else was 
riveting F.'s attention. To me the silence had seemed 
complete, when he said, very low, ' Hark ! ' and though I 
listened I detected nothing ; then, ' Look ! look ! ' at the 
same time pointing and staring downwards. I looked where 
I supposed (wrongly) I was meant to — at our feet — for a 
poochi (crawling insect of some sort) ; for all poochis were 
of unflagging interest to him. There was no insect, and 
I saw nothing, but in the selfsame instant found myself 
grabbed hold of and flung aside like any bundle among the 
tent ropes, heard, too, a ringing shout from F., which was 
caught up, prompt as an echo, by every throat in the camp ; 
why, none knew or cared, except as following suit, probably 
from habit. But / soon knew, for F. beckoned me again to 
look, pointing downwards as before, and this time I saw the 
last few bounds of a tiger before he vanished among the 
rocks in the enwrapping gloom. 

1 These pots were kerosene oil drums, which as well as two-gallon tins 
make desirable, and eagerly begged-for, boilers when large quantities of food 
are preparing. After being burnt out with straw they are perfectly free 
from the slightest trace of oil. 



272 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

It was hard to realise that brief span of high-pressure 
life, so quickly had it passed, lasting perhaps not more 
than two minutes, yet the story of which must, perforce, be 
so laboured in the telling. 

Had F. wished to fire, which he did not, he could not have 
done so, for the rifles were at that moment lying in pieces on 
a mat, being cleaned ready for the morning. Over and 
above that detail, he was then on the track of a bull bison, 
with the which nothing must interfere, as a shot might do 
if heard, as it probably would be — sound carrying so far by 
night — and, as a consequence, would alarm the game and 
drive it elsewhere. 

A small piece of forest lay to our right, and F. told me after- 
wards that he had caught a very slight sound from that 
direction — the snapping of a twig — which from its slightness 
he knew could only be caused by the passage of some animal, 
while a louder sound might easily be accounted for by the 
falling of a branch or fragment of rock. There were no 
human beings up here but ourselves, nor were any animals 
likely to be stirring then except night prowlers. When he 
had told me to look it was at something he could only make 
out very indistinctly (on account of the mist), as it was 
turning the angle of a rock below. It stole up the incline 
towards us, and crouched, and there being nothing behind 
its outline was clear against the sky. Then he saw plainly 
that it was a tiger, and, moreover, about to spring upon us ; 
as he surely would have done but for F.'s promptness in 
showing himself. And as I was a dummy in this act he was 
forced to be quick, not to say rough, in getting me out of 
the way — a roughness for which I was grateful enough. 
My own laggard senses would never have seized and saved 
the situation. F. said, too, that he thought the tiger had 
only meant to creep up to some unwary dog or goat, perhaps 
taking us for such. In any case, it was an unheard-of thing 
that one should dare to get so close to the tents at all, and 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 273 

in front, too, where he knew he could not be hidden ; per- 
haps he was old, and his keenness of vision and scent 
diminished. However that might be, there was no doubt 
about the tiger's being startled and scared in his turn, for 
he went off pretty quick. 

F. kept in his eye the very spot where the tiger had 
crouched, and upon measurement it was found to be but a 
few yards distant from where we were sitting, nicely within 
reach ! 

So enticing was our camp that the tiger could not keep 
away for long, and was round again a few hours later. 
Despite being discovered by all the dogs at once, judging 
by their excitement, so daring was he as to hang about till 
driven off at last by the men's torches, he was even seen 
before he would go, for the glaring light was thrown upon 
every corner ; and if the fact of allowing himself to be 
chased away at last contradicts my assertion of his daring, 
that must be put down not so much to the men's antics 
as to the torches, for fire no wild thing can face. In all 
regions of the globe travellers will lay themselves com- 
posedly beside a few burning logs, assured of safety as far 
as prowling beasts are concerned, the spiral of smoke being 
warning enough. 

Two ibex kids were born while we were up in the hills, 
but their mother abandoning them for some reason or other, 
they were brought up by hand, and throve apace. As they 
were not old enough to look after themselves when we had 
to return to Coimbatore, we took them with us, our inten- 
tion being to send them back later on to their own natural 
habitat and mode of life, knowing that they would speedily 
find their bearings. This plan, however, was never carried 
out ; for, to our great regret, the little creatures died within 
a short time of each other from a cause which we were at 
first quite at a loss to imagine, as they seemed to be in the 
best of health and spirits a few hours before. On a post- 



274 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

mortem examination being made, in each of their stomachs 
was found a ball of hair as large as a tennis-ball — their own 
hair, which they had licked off and swallowed. Cats do 
this sometimes, bringing it up, and so relieving themselves ; 
but we never knew any animal but our little ibex kids to 
die from this cause. 

Having secured as many half -grown ibex as were required 
for the purpose already stated, F.'s attention was concen- 
trated upon a bull bison, which, as I have said, was one 
reason for the tiger's being let off scot-free. We had come 
up with him a few days previously, but it was nearly a fort- 
night before his head and hide were to grace the camp. 
That following up of the quarry, with the turnings and 
doublings of craft versus craft, was the element in this sport 
which held such a special charm for F. — not the shooting ; 
that he liked least. Experiences many and varied can crowd 
themselves into a moment, yet take long a-telling, but the 
story of what F. suffered at the horns of that bison, who 
cost him his pet rifle into the bargain (a piece of mischief 
not forgotten or forgiven), was after another sort, so here I 
' cry pause.' 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 275 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Bison hunt continued — F.'s adventures — The preparation of trophies — 
The Churmers again — Two dilemmas — Bison calves — ' Bux.' 

F. and his men were up and off at peep o' day every morning, 
of set purpose to return with the bison that evening, and as 
regularly came back with the same story, that they had 
sighted and lost him, till one evening, when the return was 
made in an unwonted fashion ; for F. almost staggered 
into camp, looking ' nervy ' in a way utterly unlike him ; 
dishevelled and coatless, too, with great rents in clothes 
warranted to stand almost any usage, and his belt hanging 
with buckleless ends — all of which could be taken in at a 
glance. 

He lifted the belt ends, with the one word, ' Bison ' ; 
and to the murmured query, ' Did he do that ? ' — ' He did.' 
That was all the explanation possible for the moment, 
continuous speech was manifestly beyond him ; but that a 
whisky-and-soda, so reviving in ordinarily trying circum- 
stances, was left unheeded, showed indeed that something 
very far from ordinary had happened. His men came cluster- 
ing round the tent door, peering in, every eye fixed on that 
one face with an expression blent of wonderment, inquiry, 
and dog-like solicitude. Very quiet were they all for such 
noisy folk, striving, if it were possible by hard staring, to 
make sure that their Doray was not hurt to the death — 
the wonder being that he was alive at all. He had ascer- 
tained for himself that no bones were broken ; but talking 
was an effort yet awhile, and the details of the story only 
came out in a disjointed way, to be pieced together gradually. 



276 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

The bison had begun by dodging him backwards and for- 
wards round a buttress tree, till his head swam, not giving 
him an instant's leisure in which to take aim. A buttress 
tree is not suited for climbing, the trunk throwing out walls 
or buttresses all round, and forming, as it were, stalls 
between. To be caught in one of these would certainly 
result in being pinned to the tree. 

If the bison had not been in deadly earnest it would have 
been quite like a game ; but half an hour of it had not 
tired him out, whereas F. was momentarily getting more 
and more dizzy. He knew that he could not keep up the 
movement much longer, and must fall, which would be 
fatal, so he started to run in another direction — which, 
mattered nothing ; for there were no climbable trees in sight, 
only a few saplings, and it was very open country, without 
even the friendly cover of a rock, behind which he might 
take the instant necessary for getting gun to shoulder to 
draw a bead. However, quick as he was in changing his 
tactics, the bull was quicker, and though F. could not see 
he knew he was close behind him, and in his own mind antici- 
pated the horrid moment when he felt the touch at his back 
and was caught up by the belt and tossed high in air. But 
that the belt, of heavy leather though it was, gave way, 
he must have been brought down again, to be either 
retossed or gored ; as it happened, he was thrown to a 
distance, the rifle flying out of his hand and falling with 
metallic ring on to rock — dreadful sound to its owner ! 
Then, from where he lay, hardly able to draw his breath and 
jarred to the teeth, helpless for the nonce to interfere or 
dispute possession, he saw the bull go up to it and stamp 
upon it deliberately as though to stamp the life out, which 
he did effectually — past recovery. 

The rifle being well flattened out the bull turned angry 
eyes around and advanced towards F., pausing a short way 
off to lower and shake his head at him. Even in the face of 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 277 

these threats, F. said, he still felt himself utterly powerless 
to stir, and on that account, and because he was in no sort 
of pain, he was beginning to think he must be paralysed ; 
but at the bare notion of such a thing he found strength to 
scramble up from under the creature's very nose. It was 
breath he was short of, his legs would serve. 

The men were at no great distance, one of them carrying 
the spare rifle, and they had their wits about them — so far 
as wits might avail — and were to the full as concerned for 
their master as for themselves. Watching his opportunity, 
the rifle-bearer darted sideways, dropped this last hope 
into the grass, and placed a stick upright beside it to enable 
F. to find it easily, all of them the while dancing and shouting 
like demons to distract, if possible, the bull's attention from 
its object. But no ; it was not to be so distracted, for he 
never so much as turned an eye on any of them. 

Running his best — a bad best after the tossing — F. must 
now needs stumble, but picked himself up, turning round 
so that he might at any rate see what was in store, the rifle 
being out of reach as yet. As he stood, so did the bull for 
a space, with his forelegs planted out and his hoofs dug into 
the turf, bellowing ferociously, and snorting with exertions 
so ill suited to him. In another second, before F. could slip 
to one side, he plunged forward full tilt at him, knocking him 
down and standing over him, the foam-flecks dropping from 
his mouth on to F.'s face. 

That the next moment held but two alternatives seemed 
certain : either a second tossing, where one was enough ; or 
to feel the point of a horn — the sort he was wont so greatly 
to admire — through his chest and pinning him to the 
ground. But as a man cannot think of every possibility, 
F. did not in his extremity guess what that moment held 
for him. The huge brown head bent lower and lower, till 
the bloodshot eyes were beneath, and it was in position for 
what looked likely to be the last scene in this act. There 



278 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

was no time to ponder, only just to do as the moment 
suggested. He grasped the horns, was raised up by them, 
and balanced for an age-long second in the air ; then, half- 
thrown, half himself springing to earth, tore ahead, without 
stopping to look behind. 

And now happened one of those unexpected things that 
do occur once and again when mortal aid is past praying 
for. As F. ran in the direction of the rifle placed ready for 
him he noticed a sudden cessation of pounding hoofs 
behind him, but the bellowing and snorting were redoubled. 
He turned to look, and at the same instant the men's cries 
changed from desperation to joy and triumph ; for lo ! 
the bull had trapped himself. In 'his blind fury, heedless 
of his own steps, and only bent on annihilating his enemy, 
he had fallen nearly chest-deep into the wedge-shaped split 
of a rock, with all his feet in a bunch ; and the more he 
struggled the tighter he stuck. But for this F.'s hand might 
not have steadied itself effectively to order ; but now it 
was easy, even for his still shaky grasp, to fire the death 
shot at the hampered bison, and thus in the end to become 
the rescuer of the poor imprisoned beast ; not to lif e indeed 
— that might not be — but from a death of protracted agony. 
Death, grim, and as it seemed inevitable, had loomed before 
F. himself a minute agone, and in the very next all peril 
was past ! 

Even such experiences were not enough to put F. off 
bison-hunting, his love of it went too deep ; and, as I have 
said, no species of sport approached it in the charm it had 
for him. He admitted that in degree the events of that one 
day did go beyond the mark for sensations, but in kind they 
were the sort of thing he really lived for during these 
expeditions. 

On my asking him afterwards where his thoughts were — 
if he had any at all — at the moment of being tossed, he said 
that he distinctly remembered thinking when his belt broke 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 279 

that it was a case of the N.'s dog over again — that dog whose 
life was saved by her collar giving way when she was carried 
off by a panther. 

The men had much ado to haul the great carcase out of 
the cleft where it was wedged before it should become rigid. 
Indeed, it took hours of tugging and prising with ropes 
and bamboo poles and crowbars, wielded con amore by 
brawny arms, before the task was accomplished ; but first 
of all the head had to be severed and brought away. That 
alone is a serious bit of business, as I witnessed at another 
time, for the skin at the back of the neck is fully two and a 
half inches through. Another evidence of the giant strength 
of a bison, which I saw and well remember, was in the sinews 
of the hind legs — absolute cords of the thickness of a man's 
thumb. 

When the head, slung on poles and borne by four men, 
was brought in, my part, as always, was to make a sketch 
of it, with careful measurements, for the subsequent mount- 
ing. Heads vary much in contour, and all F.'s trophies 
had to be set up exactly according to size and outline during 
life. The skin might stretch here, or shrink there in drying, 
but it was pulled or pinched to the proper dimensions over 
the clay-moulding on the skull and jawbones. My sketch 
also gave the general look — whether long and narrow, or 
broad and short. I have been called up at four o'clock 
in the morning to see a bison just killed near the camp — 
so near that the death shot was heard there distinctly. 
Great feasting was always the order of the day, and night, 
too, on such occasions, except among those — Hindus and 
some others — who might not eat of their sacred cow, bull 
being near enough allied to be forbidden. All the rest were 
in their glory ; the dogs, too ; and as long as the meat 
lasted nothing was to be expected of anybody. They would 
gorge themselves, sleep it off, and start afresh ; so we left 
them to it ; but the dogs had to be limited. 



280 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

The way with the head, from which every particle of flesh 
and fibre must be removed before setting up, was to bury 
it, leaving the ants and other agencies to clean it perfectly, 
as they would do. It took several weeks for this process 
to be completed and the bones quite clean. 

As a rule, we had with us among our beaters, coolies, etc., 
some of those little Churmers of whom dishonourable men- 
tion was made earlier, and who, being of no caste to speak 
of, objected to nothing in the way of meat, fresh or decayed, 
rather preferring the latter. However, they were necessary 
evils in a camp, for no one else could or would do their work, 
and to them was entrusted the skinning, under the Doray's 
eye ; they could be left to themselves to scrape off every 
atom of flesh, so greedy were they and so thoroughly did 
they enjoy their job. 

One evening, on reaching the confines of the camp, we 
were assailed by a horrible odour, and F. said he was sure 
these folk had dug up a head, which proved to be the case. 
They thought it had been buried too soon, with too much 
good food on it, which they begrudged to the moles and the 
ants. In any stage of decay meat was meat to them, and 
presently we came upon them enjoying themselves to their 
hearts' content, although it must have been seething with 
maggots. They cried on all occasions, these strange beings, 
and did so now. Seeing the Doray coming they all got up, 
and without venturing nearer, begged with tears in their 
eyes to be allowed to keep the head a while, promising to 
re-bury it for good when they had done with it. After a 
show of anger at their daring in digging up what the master 
had had buried, F. gave the permission they asked, with 
orders to take themselves and their bonne-bouche farther off. 

The odd thing is that these people are always well and 
strong and healthy-looking, whereas by rights, or rather 
by every rule of hygiene, they should be quite the con- 
trary, eating any sort of carrion as they, and even their tiny 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 281 

children, do. What a village dog would refuse they will eat. 
Owing to their rank odour they could not be employed in 
any other work about the camp than skinning and rough, 
temporary tanning, when such was wanted of them. We 
used to think they rather congratulated themselves upon 
this, as, of course, they shared in all else that was going. 
Yet they certainly have their uses, as was once proved to 
us by their absence when a bull bison had been ' bagged ' 
and there was no one able to carry the head. As caste 
men, those with us might not touch a dead animal, and F. 
had to manage severing the head by himself, while they, 
with all the will in the world, could only look on. One man 
could not carry that head alone, but F. was determined it 
should not be left there, even if the carcase were. Night 
was falling, and it was a long step to the camp, or there were 
plenty of less rigid caste who would have been glad to be 
fetched, and so keep all the meat for themselves. As for 
the men who were with us, though they constantly had their 
treats when sambur or pig or buck ibex were slain, that 
recollection would not make it a less bitter trial for them 
to have to watch a feast in progress and be unable to 
partake. 

However, if a coach and four can be run through any Act 
of Parliament, so it is with caste on occasion — provided 
nobody knows ! 

Among the men present, inactive against their will, and 
debarred from the prospective banquet, was Botha, already 
mentioned as a special bearer of mine. As I stood watching 
the scene I caught a fleeting glance of wonderful intelligence 
and complete accord crossing betwixt his merry eyes and 
the Dor ay's grave ones ; only by F.'s subsequent action 
could the nature of that Marconi communication be guessed 
at. By a wave of his hand he nicked a few drops of blood 
upon the men standing round, at which they all looked 
properly aghast, yet were none the less very much obliged 



282 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

to him. Their caste was broken, but the deadlock was at 
an end, and the rest of the tribe away in the villages need 
never know. After this the work went forward without a 
hitch, and in the evening, when the boiling and roasting 
were in full swing, all prepared to pretty near burst them- 
selves. Caste was forgotten — were they not all in the same 
boat together now ? 

F. said afterwards that he was in somewhat of a quandary 
for the moment, but that two things were equally fixed — 
that the bison head had got to be safely lodged in camp that 
night, and that the men knew it, and meant to take it 
there. All the same, he could not order them to do it, 
slaves though they were to his every word and sign in all 
respects save this one of caste. Talk of looks of affection, 
of anger, of scorn, or aught else, none could exceed in 
eloquence that of imploring greediness in the circle of eyes 
around, which was indeed the illuminating source of inspira- 
tion to F. Botha could read the minds of his brethren by 
his own. 

This serio-comic bit of by-play, acted now for the first 
time, was repeated over and over again when occasion arose, 
but spoken of neither then nor afterwards. 

It befell once, when the men had just brought in gleefully 
a fine sambur and laid it down still tied to the slings, that, 
while standing beside it, I touched the body with the tip of 
my shoe, perhaps by way of emphasising some remark, 
knowing no better at that time. They noted the momentary 
action, and instantly their joy changed into sorrow ; for 
now they might not eat of it ! All that fat beast was lost 
to them, a foot having touched it ! Luckily F., too, had 
noticed. Deprecating the catastrophe as much as they 
did — and truly, for he objected to such waste — he declared 
the meat to be unfit for anybody's food, ours as well as 
theirs, until certain munthrams (charms or incantations) 
had been repeated over it, and said that in this case, as it 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 283 

concerned us as nearly as it did them, his munthrams would 
be as efficacious as any used by their priests. Every face 
cleared at this assurance, and the men listened trustfully, 
nothing doubting, a shadow of awe creeping over each, 
while F. slowly chanted several verses of nursery rhymes, 
accompanying them with appropriate gestures. Thus was 
a serious dilemma — for serious it was to our easily grieved, 
if easily comforted, people — met and turned by adroit 
handling. But if I shocked these very punctilious people 
on that occasion, so did they me on another, when I saw 
one of them pressing the contents of the entrails of some 
animal yard by yard into the cooking-pot a-simmer on the 
fire, yet throwing away the mere enveloping membrane 
as something unclean which might not enter their food ; 
while the others sat round watching, and raising no 
objection ! 

One evening the ' bag ' was a live bison calf, covered 
with soft and longish red-brown hair ; a pretty little creature, 
which a man carried on his shoulder. Led by its piteous 
cries, they had traced it to a native trap — a deep pit, with 
boughs laid lightly over the mouth. What had become of 
its mother we never found out. She would never have left 
it of her own accord, for it was very young ; and perhaps 
it fretted for her, as it soon died, though it seemed to thrive 
well on the goats' milk we gave it. With another, which 
was destined for the ' Zoo,' we succeeded better, and it was 
shipped comfortably, with all planned for its well-being ; 
however, we heard afterwards that it had succumbed to 
sea-sickness. 

Yet another catch was a baby elephant that from first 
to last was nothing but a credit to his keepers. He, too, 
was traced by his squeals, and found in just such another 
pit as that into which the bison calf had fallen. These pits 
are a source of annoyance, though not exactly dangerous, 
to men, who can clamber out of them with some trouble. 



284 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

Difficult as it is to rear the wild things, for they seldom take 
kindly to artificial surroundings, we never had any anxiety 
about the little elephant, who throve apace, neither pining 
nor ailing, though sometimes sulking. 

At first he decided to take nourishment only by means 
of a rag, and would not look at a pail of milk to help himself ; 
but one day being left alone with one, by way of teaching 
him, he made trial, and found the art of drinking so easily 
acquired that he never stopped till he had drained the pail 
of its last drop ; then, finding that he was getting no more, 
his anger rose, and he lifted up his baby trunk and squealed, 
at the same time picking up and putting down again the — 
even at that age — ready forefoot several times in quick 
succession, sure sign of an elephant's displeasure. Given 
as much as was good for him, namely, two gallons a day 
in the beginning, he finished up the milk regimen of infancy 
by demanding his six gallons. If that seem hard to believe, 
it was not so to him to drink that quantity, as he did daily, 
none being booked to his account wrongfully ; and if he 
kicked the pail over for fun, he was not the loser. Fresh 
milk in such quantities was out of the question, but con- 
densed suited ' Bux ' quite as well. His appetite was the 
same when he began to take solids ; boiled rice, and gram, 
like the horses, with vegetables, plantains, native bread, 
and, of course, forest leaves and boughs by degrees, as he 
grew — nothing came amiss to him. His accommodating 
disposition helped him to thrive — accommodating, that is, 
according to the general habit of men and animals alike, 
just so far as all went as he liked and he had both plenty 
and variety within trunk reach. But the instant he missed 
anything, or suddenly wanted what was not to be seen, 
having, perhaps, been given boiled rice when he fancied 
soaked gram, or cocoanuts instead of blocks of jaggheri, then 
his way was to go off by himself to sulk, refusing all over- 
tures, even if offered what we knew he really wanted, or else 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 285 

to flare up angrily and run to butt at the first person in his 
way, when such was the force of the impact that if taken by 
surprise the person was pretty sure to be bowled over. I 
was many a time, sometimes in play, sometimes not ; but 
as he grew older that phase passed away, and the un- 
reasonableness of babyhood was succeeded by an affection 
that did not depend on needs alone, and the gentleness, so 
characteristic of the grown elephant, dawned through his 
roughest gambols. 

It was very pretty to mark that instinctive self-control 
growing with his growth, exactly in the same way as one 
sees it do in puppy dom. Every pup alike, patrician or 
plebeian, apart from gnawing at anything hard to help 
itself on in its teething, tears and bites ferociously at the 
patient mother, or the hands that minister to its wants, all 
in frolic ; later he merely mumbles, till, as an adult dog, 
he will take your hand in his mouth without your feeling 
the touch of a tooth. He knows now that he could hurt, 
and he wouldn't do so for the world. 

We kept ' Bux ' for several years, and then he went to live 
with the other elephants, eventually being made over to the 
Government with a view to his earning his living some day, 
only on the condition that he should always be retained in 
F.'s district, wherever that might be Not till he should be 
fifteen years of age would any work be required of him, 
beyond, perhaps, the fetching of a few boughs, etc., daily 
for his sustenance during the night. 



286 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Jugglers — Initiates — Hypnotism — Telepathy — Indian impressions. 

Few, I suppose, who have looked their last on India but 
give an occasional backward thought to those mysterious 
sons of hers, the jugglers. 

No one would use that word as descriptive of European 
conjurers and their bewildering tricks, but I know no other 
so fitting here. 

The Western conjurer has an array of all sorts of stage 
illusions at his back ; the Eastern juggler has no stage except 
the lawn or gravel, whereon he sits cross-legged in front of 
one's bungalow. I do not say that there are no illusions. The 
conjurer may pull his sleeves up and down to prove that 
they hold no rabbits or bowls of goldfish ; the juggler wears 
no sleeves. He unconcernedly lets any who will walk all 
round him, but none would be permitted to make so free 
with the conjurer, who has his helpers behind the scenes 
or maybe among the spectators. The juggler's troupe 
consists merely of himself and his boy, the latter carrying 
a basket on his head with a few necessaries. 

Some may think that the last word has surely been said 
about the ' mango-tree ' trick, and the ' basket ' trick (with 
its reappearing murdered boy), and many others. They 
have been imitated in European lands successfully enough 
as to results, but under such contrasting circumstances and 
surroundings as to rob them of all glamour for those who 
have seen the originals. For the benefit of those who have 
not done so, the wonders as shown in India may be briefly 
described. Before your eyes a mango stone is buried in 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 287 

the mould of a little flower-pot and then covered over with 
a black cloth — always black, there is no deviation from that 
rule. Presently this is whisked off for you to see that a 
tiny green shoot is appearing through the mould. It is 
covered up again for a few moments, but you notice that the 
cloth does not now lie flat — there seems to be something 
pushing it up ; and so indeed there is, for when it is again 
removed to allow another peep, the shoot has become a 
sturdy little plant, throwing out leaves. Again the cloth 
is laid over it, but very gingerly this time, for fear of injuring 
the delicate tip, and again you wait. You would dearly 
like to see beneath the cloth, as perhaps the juggler guesses, 
for he carefully lifts the flower-pot up bodily in his two hands 
that you may satisfy yourself that there is nothing under 
it but the ground on which it stands. When he again 
uncovers it there is a white bud and blossom ; the next 
time, behold ! the little tree has borne a mango — an im- 
mature green thing. Then, when you have stared at it long 
enough to make sure you are not dreaming, it is veiled for 
the ripening — the last stage before the final one when the 
warmly-tinted, perfect mango is plucked and offered for 
your acceptance, to be eaten, not only looked at : an 
unmistakable mango, luscious but indescribable. 

It is hard to say what my thoughts were when I first saw 
that done and tasted the magic fruit. Doubt as to the 
reality of the thing was impossible, yet to my perception 
the juggler did no more than I have said ; that is, he alter- 
nately covered and uncovered the flower-pot after planting 
his mango stone, playing between whiles on his little 
droning instrument much in the fashion of the snake- 
charmer. Afterwards flower-pot and fairy mango-tree 
were bundled unceremoniously into the basket. 

Not then but later I was told why it is always a black 
covering that is used — it is to exclude light. I was reminded 
of the fact that the early processes of Nature are carried on 



288 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

in the dark, out of sight, alike in the vegetable and animal 
kingdoms ; thus the seed germinates and the embryo takes 
shape. So that the mango ' trick ' is not a trick ; it is but 
a hurrying on of Nature's own methods through a know- 
ledge of her laws. Whence that knowledge is derived I 
was not told, and I do not know, though the Initiate knows, 
and so does the wandering juggler ; but ever afterwards, 
when that ' trick ' was done before me — which was often, 
for it was the one I liked best — it gave me a sense of awe 
far above mere wonderment. 

Two other things that particular juggler did may sound 
simpler, though we could scarcely believe our eyes when we 
saw them done. First, he took out of his basket a packet 
wrapped in a piece of coarse cloth, which he unwound very 
carefully, and showed us about fourteen brightly coloured 
powders folded in separate papers ; next he asked for a 
large plate, and a dinner plate was brought. Then : — 

( 1) He shook the powders out in little distinct heaps round 

the edge of the plate. 

(2) He swept off each heap into a paper and tipped it 

into his mouth. 

(3) He spat the powders out again — still as powders, there 

was no change in their condition — in separate 
colours in a circle round the plate exactly as they 
were before. 

(4) He put the powders back into their papers, and 

wrapped all together in the cloth to be packed up. 

Then just by the way, as it seemed, he drew an end of 
coloured cotton out of his mouth, and went on drawing it 
yard upon yard, till it lay in quite a pile on his lap. Very 
pretty it was, and of all tints, one merging into another most 
delicately — such cotton as none of us had ever seen before. 
When the other end finally appeared the juggler wound it 
all round a twist of paper, and pushed it into the basket 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 289 

as of no account. The cotton was in a perfectly usable 
condition as it came out of the man's mouth, apparently 
no more affected by being there than were the powders ; yet 
his mouth looked the same as other people's. Contrary as 
one would suppose these little exhibitions (like the mango 
trick) to be to the inherent nature of things, nevertheless it 
was done by the juggler. I have no explanation to offer ; I 
only submit a statement of facts, or, I should say, of facts 
as they appeared to us. 

I have tasted rice that I saw boiled on a boy's head, the 
boy meanwhile laughing because he had been bribed with 
a rupee to let his head be used as a fireplace ! 

The juggler began by asking for rice and an earthen pot 
such as natives use in their own cooking. These require- 
ments having been brought, he invited some one of our 
servants to take part in the exhibition ; but they all hesi- 
tated, till we bribed a stable-boy to submit to the ordeal, 
he being assured that not a hair of his head should be hurt. 

First, the juggler removed the boy's turban, and substi- 
tuted for it a pad for the steadying of a small iron plate to 
hold the fire, which he then neatly built up of sticks and 
charcoal. Wind-fanned, it very soon kindled, and he set 
the pot of water on to boil. The instant it did so he threw 
the rice into it together with a pinch of salt, and then we 
had to wait the necessary fifteen or twenty minutes while 
it was cooking — no magic about that. 

Meanwhile the face beneath the fire was an interesting 
study. Having begun by expressing fear coupled with 
greed for the promised rupee, as the boy, so to speak, 
warmed to his work, a smile gradually broadened across it 
when first the crackling sticks and then the bubbling water 
gave assurance of a brisk fire well alight on the top of his 
head, yet causing him no discomfort. 

In orthodox fashion the juggler cook now tested a grain 
of the rice betwixt his finger and thumb, and finding it was 

T 



290 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

just right, took the pot off the fire, drained away the hot 
water, and dashed cold on. This done, he handed the rice 
round that every one present might taste it, which we did — 
fireplace boy and all — and pronounced it done to perfection. 
This trick, I heard, admits of an easy explanation, but I 
never learned what that might be. 

At a garden party given at Lahore, in the Punjaub, a 
specially noted juggler was to be the main attraction. Four 
of the guests, knowing something of this man's attainments, 
arranged with their host and hostess to go to different parts 
of the grounds, taking with them their cameras, as well as 
pencils and paper, in order afterwards to compare notes 
amongst themselves and with the other guests. 

For assistant this juggler had only the usual boy carrying 
the basket on his head. 

Some of the marvels exhibited were new, others old, but 
none the less baffling. When the man proposed to do the 
' basket ' trick, as it is called, it was at first vetoed as too 
familiar to be of much interest ; but he said that he thought 
his was not so, and asked leave to show it, which was, of 
course, accorded him. 

In the usual version of this trick the juggler thrusts 
a sword several times through and through a basket with 
a boy in it, each time drawing out his reeking weapon to 
the accompaniment of agonised outcries from the victim. 
The next instant up capers the boy, from no one knows 
where, and the basket being opened is found to be empty 
and innocent of stain. This man's version was of another 
sort. 

Out of his basket he took a big roll of girthing — the kind 
used with saddles — and threw it into the air with all his 
might. Up it flew its whole length, and stayed there ; 
whereupon the boy was seen to climb it, hand over hand, 
high above all heads, on and on till out of sight ! Then the 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 291 

wicked juggler drew his sword and slashed the girthing 
through, causing it to tumble down in a heap. Dreadful 
screams were heard, followed by silence, while mangled 
limbs together with drops of blood were seen falling to the 
ground. No wonder women fainted ! Then, while con- 
sternation and horror still tied every tongue, the juggler 
called out, ' Idtherao ! ' (' Come here ! ') and instantly the 
slaughtered boy came running back, nobody seeing whence, 
and plumped himself down on the grass safe and sound, 
and quite careless of the sensation he caused, before the 
nervous people who had fainted had yet ' come to.' There 
lay the girthing twisted about on the ground, and the sword 
beside it, but where was the dread shower that every one 
had seen fall ? There were no signs of it ! 

At this point the gentlemen of the cameras appeared, and 
the first person they spoke to was the juggler in his native 
Hindustani, who showed as much intelligent interest in 
their proceedings as any one, though making no comment. 

The written notes they had made tallied with each other, 
as with the observations of every one present, in every par- 
ticular right through the performance ; but the cameras 
gave the He direct to all such evidence for the climbing of an 
impossible ladder or the falling of broken limbs. The plates 
intended to perpetuate these scenes among others showed 
nothing of the kind ! 

A juggler's tricks are his means of livelihood, so no 
questionings are permissible, but the thirst for elucidation 
here was very keen, and spoken of openly. A little English 
may have been included in this man's stock of knowledge, 
and the gist of the talk all around not lost on him ; however, 
he gave no sign, nor vouchsafed a hint. In silence he packed 
his basket, relaxing only so far as to allow a non-committal 
smile to flit across his face at some one's remark that ' the 
girthing was still all in one piece, so the sword could only 
have cut through empty air.' 



292 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

An account of this affair was drawn up, to which very- 
many of those who witnessed it signed their names — names 
well known in the British official circle, civil and military, 
of Lahore society. The signatories were therefore people 
who were generally credited with the full use of their facul- 
ties, and who up to that time had so credited themselves. 
This declaration was afterwards published in the Pioneer 
and other prominent Indian journals of the day. Never- 
theless, not a few persons, while certain of what they had 
seen and set their names to, were equally certain that there 
had been nothing to see ; which seeming paradox expresses 
the simple truth, that the whole thing was hallucination 
induced by hypnotism, a subject of study through all ages 
in the East, and in which the jugglers are past masters. 
Doctors of science, with decorations and honours galore 
pinned to their coats, who live to contradict one another — 
ay, and themselves too — year by year, in London, Paris, 
or Vienna, might have sat with advantage at the feet of this 
Gamaliel — a man with only a couple of yards of cloth for 
wardrobe — who knew more about hypnotism and kindred 
subjects than do they all put together ; knew, perhaps, all 
there is to know. 

Jugglers are born, not made. I am not speaking of the 
mere trick-mongers of the bazaars, but the true magicians, 
who are not common nor easily found. The otherwise 
universal rule of the son following in his father's steps is 
put aside here if the infant be unfitted, in which case another 
boy is adopted instead, the horoscope cast at the birth of 
every child being an unerring guide. The stars cannot lie ; 
they are an open book for those who can read them. 

Another noted juggler gave an exhibition of his powers 
at a garden party in Bangalore, the host being Major M., 
the Political Resident there. Bangalore is the capital of 
Mysore, in the Madras Presidency, and has such an English 
climate that plants and shrubs common in our gardens at 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 293 

home thrive there in perfection. It will not, therefore, seem 
strange to speak of a wistaria as growing luxuriantly on the 
walls and porch of an Indian bungalow. 

When wonder after wonder had been reeled off, Major M. 
asked the juggler, in Hindustani, if he could do anything in 
reason that might be proposed by an outsider — by himself, 
for instance ? Without hesitation the man replied that he 
could. Looking at the wistaria, Major M. said : ' Then 
bring that tree off the wall and put it back again.' This 
he called something in reason ! However, it did not seem 
to raise a qualm of doubt in the juggler's mind. Not a 
muscle of his impassive face moved. Having accepted the 
challenge already, he merely bent his head in token of his 
readiness to take it up. He had stopped his droning music 
for a while, but now began it again, accompanying it with 
chanted words, apparently directed to the object of the 
incantations — the wistaria. Some two hundred people were 
present, and one and all declared afterwards that they beheld 
it detach itself from the supporting lattice, sink gradually 
to earth, and lie prone for an appreciable space of time ; 
then lift itself up, and slowly return to its original position, 
firmly entwined in and out of the woodwork. 

This was so staggering to a belief in things generally 
that, contrary to rule and tradition, Major M. then and there 
made the juggler an offer of five hundred rupees (about 
thirty-two pounds) to reveal to him privately the source 
of his power. The man said that he was willing to do so, 
on his part, but that first he must be allowed a word with 
Major M. ; if after that the offer were repeated he would 
comply immediately. So the two went away together to 
a distant part of the grounds. They were gone for a full 
half-hour, and came back together, the juggler looking 
nothing different, but the other as if he had heard or 
experienced some uncanny thing. 

Later on Major M. gave his friends the gist of the inter- 



294 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

view. The man had begun by saying that he could com- 
municate the source of his power, but that he knew it could 
never be used by the English Sahib, who, though now 
offering such a fortune to learn the poor juggler's secret, 
would, he believed, gladly give double afterwards to unlearn 
it, and he warned him earnestly against pressing for it. 
Nevertheless, Major M. said, he was foolish enough to persist, 
and the dread knowledge was now his. He was also free 
to speak of it to his English friends if he chose, and this was 
it : The juggler had sold himself, long years before, to the 
Shaitan, who was a cruel master and made his own con- 
ditions — the hoary old legend of the compact betwixt man 
and the Evil One told in Goethe's drama, a legend, like 
others, with its substratum of truth, ancient, before History 
was cradled, amongst all races that ever existed. 

That was the man's belief ; the horrifying part to the 
Englishman being his unmistakable sincerity in regarding 
the bargain as irrevocable and abhorrent, as shown by his 
reiterated warnings to the other to beware of knowledge so 
accursed. 

At the time this occurred we were away in the wilds as 
usual, but we heard about it afterwards from Major M.'s 
son, who was one of the privileged witnesses of the mystery. 
Hypnotism again, undoubtedly, and this juggler perhaps not 
so highly trained or so susceptible as the Lahore man, who 
had got beyond searching on the physical plane for a key 
to the psychic — a sort of knowledge his which comes not 
by the light of nature. 

An example of a somewhat different kind may be given. 
It was on this wise. The juggler was asked the same ques- 
tion or favour as in the last case — Would he leave the beaten 
track for something else that might be proposed ? — and 
returned the same unhesitating, unconditional answer, that 
he would. The inquirer was a collector of coins. He went 
into the house and brought out a pocketful gathered from 



ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 295 

all lands, and the juggler was bidden to describe them as 
one by one Mr. W. took them out of his pocket. This the 
man did without a single failure, giving the minutest details 
of each device on coins from countries of which it cannot 
be supposed he had ever heard, as Mexico, Denmark, and 
others. It was not through bodily eyesight that he did it, 
for he was seated too far off for that ; besides, when Mr. W. 
closed his hand over some familiar Indian coins, that made 
no difference, he read them off as easily as the rest. More- 
over, in the case of a ' Halli Sicca ' rupee, before it was well 
out of Mr. W.'s pocket the juggler's face brightened in 
pleased recognition, that rupee being the coinage of the 
Deccan, from which state he hailed. Telepathy, I imagine, 
is the solution in this case, and it would have been interesting 
and instructive if some one else had handled the coins, 
some one who could not know them by heart or by mere 
touch, as did Mr. W. himself, unaware of it the while ; for 
though he might think now and again that he had forgotten 
some, still their representations, or rather his knowledge 
of them, would be latent in the back of his mind for all time. 
The juggler, however, offered no explanation ; he only said 
that he had never done exactly that sort of thing before, 
but knew that he could not be set anything beyond his 
powers. 

It would please me to think that a word of mine could 
induce any one who has hitherto regarded a juggler — Indian 
or other — as a superior kind of mountebank, to change his 
opinion and accord him a meed of respect ; for, at any rate, 
he can do what the rest of us cannot, except one be a 
reincarnation of Cagliostro. 

' I cried when I was born, and I have been finding out 
why ever since.' That is an Indian saying met with in 
many tongues, alike in bleak Himalayan villages and 
amongst dwellers in glowing Ceylon ; and with the excep- 



296 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

tion of whole tribes — the Kurumbers, for instance, who are 
the most buoyant creatures — my impressions, after a good 
part of a lifetime in India, are of a melancholy people. 
An idea obtains in some quarters that they resent our rule ; 
but I gathered quite the contrary from men whose judgment 
was founded on long years of observation. India is too 
vast to be massed together as a whole. A Parsee merchant, 
himself a traveller and a thinker, once said to us in the 
hearing of others besides ourselves, that beneath the sky 
of Hindustan were myriads of different races, creeds, 
factions, sects, and castes, who would willingly cut each 
other's throats were it not for the British Raj, which is the 
cord that binds together the faggot of India. Despite all 
that is said to the contrary, loyalty to the protecting hand 
is a national trait. Worse than not understood, her people 
are misunderstood. 

In the course of our journeyings, as every one does, we 
made a host of acquaintances and an innermost handful of 
friends. I know that in that little group of never-to-be- 
forgotten faces there are brown ones among the white, and 
I like to think that characteristics we have learnt either to 
love or disregard here may still exist when hope shall have 
become realisation. 



INDEX 



Apiakies, 177, 178. 
Ayahs, 24, 82, 83, 85, 86, 128 ; travel- 
ling chair for, 17. 

Babies, pigmy, 104 ; on canal banks, 
108, 109. 

Bamboos, seeding year of , 97 ; bamboo- 
stone, 98 ; permits for, 173 ; various 
uses of, 168, 212, 262. 

Basket-makers, 99 ; trick, 290. 

Bearers, 18, 21 ; chant, 20. 

Bears, 25, 85, 86, 87. 

Beaters, 193, 195. 

Bees, cliff, 175 ; collection of honey, 
175,177; domesticated, 177, 178; 
immunity from sting, 175, 178. 

Bison, as sport, 233, 278 ; duel be- 
tween tiger and, 264-7 ; tiger's 
tactics with, 268 ; height of bull, 
268 ; chased and tossed by, 276, 
277, 278 ; setting up trophies, 279 ; 
calves, 283. 

Blacksmith-jeweller, 160. 

Blow-pipes, 97. 

Boar, wild, 95, 155 ; and tiger con- 
trasted, 235 ; encounter with, 237. 

Bombax indica, 179. 

Botha, 21, 281. 

Brahmagiris, 34, 185. 

Brahmins, 6, 240, 253. 

Bridges, broken ; a premonition, 121; 
124. 

Bullocks, travelling pace of, 18 ; 
driver's methods, 18 ; steadiness 
of, 256. 

Burden-bearer, a, 20. 

Butler, 8, 114, 115. 

Butterflies, 204. 

Caladiums, 190. 

Calicut, a seaport, 4, 75 ; veneration 
of cobras, 69, 71 ; tank, 72 ; an- 
tiquity of, and residence of the 
Zamorin, 74, 75 ; inhabitants, 75. 

'Camp, Our,' 23, 36, 41, 42, 48, 49, 
99, 260, 270-3 ; life, 1, 203 ; 
stores, 24, 120, 126. 

Capecotes, church at, 71. 



Car of Juggernaut, 214. 

Cardamoms, 15. 

Caste, 5, 18, 173, 194, 218, 280, 281, 

282, 296. 
Castor-oil, 177, 188 ; leaves, 188. 
Catamarans, 174. 
Caterpillars, 51, 52, 185-91. 
Cherapoonji, rainfall at, 147. 
Cheroots, ' trichies,' 156. 
Chinniah, tattooing of, 117, 118, 119. 
Cholera, 3, 142. 
Chowry, 113, 114, 115. 
Churmers, 18, 19, 280. 
Cinchona, 98. 
Coast, West, diseases of, 146, 171 ; 

scenery of, 171. 
Cobras, 61-71. 
Cocoons, 186, 1S7, 191. 
Coimbatore, 15, 53, 145, 146, 180, 

260, 273. 
Confession, extortion of, 79, 111, 112. 
Coorg, 253. 
Coppersmith, 163. 
Crocodiles, 39, 96, 107. 
Crows, 78, 147- 



Dacoits, 17. 

Deformities and monstrosities, 229, 

231. 
Dogs,' 151, 168, 169, 181, 183, 234, 

236, 260, 279. 
Dhoby, 128-31. 
Dhurries, 24, 262. 
Dor ay, 21, etc. 
Dursani, 21, etc. 
Durzai, 12. 



Elephants, Government, 27 ; native 
methods and reforms, 28 ; intelli- 
gence of, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35 ; Rama, 
29, 31, 32; 'Must,' 33; herd of 
wild, 39; a ' rogue,' 23, 40-43 ; a 
pet, 284. 

Elephantiasis, 143 ; supposed cause 
of, 145. 

Eucalyptus, 155. 

Eurasians, 4, 111, 169, 170, 173. 



U 



298 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



F., as physician and surgeon, 26, 98, 
236. 

Fakirs, 213-6. 

Fish — mahseer, 38 ; salt, 145 ; 
showers of, 146 ; sardines, 173 ; 
fishing-tours, 38, 46, 95 ; fishing- 
reels, 38, 96. 

Forest Department — duties, risks, 
pleasures, 2, 3; produce, 3, 173, 
175, 185. 



Ganjam, 252. 

Garden, experimental, 155-9, 177, 

178, 187. 
Golconda, Tombs of, 227 ; old priest, 

238. 
Gold, 164, 165, 166. 
Gourds — as musical instruments, 64, 

196, used for crossing rivers, 97. 
Gram, 24. 
Grass-fire, 184. 
Green-bugs, 52. 
Ground-nuts — substitute for coffee, 

127 ; oil, 174. 
Guavas, 158. 
Guinea-worm, 145, 146. 



Hamadryads, 15. 

Harness, elephant, 28. 

Helmet-bird, 153. 

Herd-boys, 250, 269. 

Hog-deer, 92. 

Honey, rock, 87, 175, 177. 

Horoscope, 117, 292. 

Hospitals for Leprosy in England, 

137. 
Houseboat, 106. 
Housekeeping, 7. 
Hyderabad, 221-9. 
Hypnotism, 292. 



Ibex— netting, 154 ; kids, 273. 

Idols, 81, 82. 

India — changes in, 130, 217 ; varying 

climates of, 180 ; impressions of, 

222, 296. 
Initiate, the, 288. 
Insects — pests and jokes, 48-55. 
Ipecacuanha, 156, 157. 



Jaggheri, 29. 

Jails — industries, 16 ; convicts, 17. 

Jugglers — contrasted with Western 

conjurers, 286; tricks, 286-90; 

Lahore, 290 ; Bangalore, 292. 
Jungle — 'wallahs,' 2; costume, 16; 

beauties of, 22 ; fare, 24, 154. 



Kalai-m&n, 163. 

Khubber, 206, 233. 

• Kill,' the, 22, etc. 

Kismet, 128, 251. 

Kurnool, 240, 242. 

Kurumbers, 21, 159, 160, 164, 296. 

Jain, 175, 177. 

Kus-hus, 95. 
Kutcheri, 70, 252. 



Landwind, 168. 

Lantana, 30, 150. 

Laterite, 171. 

Leeches— precautions against, 48, 49 ; 
worry to animals, 50. 

Leopard-cat kitten, 92, 93, 94. 

Leprosy— leprous village, 135; in 
England, 137; ravages of, 137; 
nuns' efforts frustrated, 138 ; colony 
at Pondicherry, 138 ; country 
leprosy, 139, 140 ; a party of mat- 
makers, 140 ; their joke, 141. 

Logan-harri, 82, 85. 

Loquats, 159. 

Mace, 157. 

Machan, 21 ; all-night vigil in, 257. 

Mahout, 27 ; his wife, 35, 37. 

Maidenhair, 106. 

Malabar — speech, 4 ; people, 75 ; 
customs, 76-79 ; law, 80. 

Malaria, 2, 3, 97, 98, 155, 171. 

Malayalam, 4. 

Make, 113. 

Manantavadi, 27, 147, 149, 152, 155, 
177, 213; bungalows at, 59, 148, 
187. 

Man-eaters— 23, 203-11, 240-55; ill- 
conditioned appearance of, 209, 
210 ; famines as causing, 210 ; un- 
solved mystery, 210, 211 ; terror 
of Kurnool, 240 ; system of re- 
wards for their destruction and 
consequence, 251, 252; epicurism 
of, instanced in Coorg, 253 ; bullock- 
driver's fate, 254. 

Mangoes, a feast of wild, 163, 164. 

tree trick, 286. 

Mantis curiosities, 55, 56. 

Medicines, 26, 98. 

Metais, 225, 226, 269. 

Minnengadi, 163. 

Missions and missionaries, 83, 84, 
139. 

Monkeys, 44, 45, 157, 158. 

Monopolies, Government — salt, 172 ; 
bamboos, 173 ; rock-honey, 175 ; 
silk-cotton, 179, et xeq. 

Monsoon, 146, 150, 167. 

Mooniappah, 238. 

Moplahs, 75 ; merchants, 79. 



INDEX 



299 



Moths, Bilk, 186, 187. 
1 Muggers. ' See Crocodiles. 
Munthrams, 282. 
Mushrooms, 54. 

Music — slave, 196 ; Eastern and 
Western, contrasted, 197. 



Nilgiris, 180. 

Nizam— H.R.H. the, 223 ; Palace of, 

224, 225. 
Nutmegs, 157. 



Ootacamund, 51, 202, 203, 210. 



Palanquins, 15, 19. 

Palms — toddy, 33; cocoanut, 171, 
172; Talipot, 171. 

Panthers — meetings with, 88, 89 ; in- 
quisitiveness of, 90 ; black one as 
guest, 148, 149 ; a ride, 150 ; bold- 
ness of, 151, 152; cubs, 152; note 
of, 153 ; a struggle, 237 ; a fur 
cap, 238. 

'Pariah,' 169. 

Pearls — fisheries ; seed, 174. 

Peons, 19, etc. 

Permits, 27, 41, 42, 173. 

Pigmies, 99-105. 

Pineapples, 157, 158. 

Pintu, 169, 170, 171. 

Pishashas, 23, 1 10. 

Pondicherry, 138, 171, 174. 

' Praying Mantis,' 55. 

PvUi, 10, 12. 

Punishment, native, 212. 

Purdah, 218. 

Pyaemia, 239. 

Pykara Ghat and Waterfall, 203, 
210. 



Rafts, 39, 99, 107. 

Rainfall — at Coimbatore, 146 ; on 

West Coast and Cherapoonji, 147 ; 

showers of fish and spiders, 146, 

147. 
Re-incarnation, Theory of, 102. 
4 Rogue '-elephant, 41, 42, 43. 



Salt, 7, 172. 
Saltfish, 145. 

Salvation Army lass and ayah, 82, 
83. 

as evangelists, 140. 

Sambur, 264, 269, 282. 
Saponaria, 131. 
Sardines, 173. 
Serimungalem, scenery, 95. 



Serimungalem — ' muggers,' 96 ; ap- 
pearance of fisherfolk, 95, 96. 

Servants, 7, el seq. ; ' characters,' 14, 
120 ; travelling, 24, 120. 

Shaitan, 232, 294. 

Shikar, 2, 3, 169, 185, 233, 238; 
cloth, 16. 

Shikari, 22, 239, 251. 

Shrike, pet, 53. 

Silk-cotton, 179. 

Silk moths, and culture, 186-91. 

Sir Salar Jung, 226. 

Slavery — slaves, 193; African descent 
of, 194 ; music, dances, 196 ; girls, 
219, 220. 

Smallpox, 3, 26, 104, 128, 129, 133. 

Snakes— hamadryads, 15; Tic Pol- 
onga, 58 ; rock-, 58 ; rat-, 59, 
184; cobra, 61-71; distinctive 
odour of, 57, 183; bite, and 
remedies, 58; tongue, and situa- 
tion of poison-glands, 61 ; nature 
of poison, 62 ; snakestone, 62 ; 
instances of presence of mind, 63 ; 
snake charmer, 64 ; poison-fangs, 
66 ; sacred cobras, 71. 

Soap-nut, 131. 

Spaniels, 234. 

Sultan's Battery, 121 ; chef at, 123, 
124. 

Sumponghi, 22. 

Suttee, 214. 

Swamps, draining of, 155. 

Sweetmeats, 225. 



Tahsildar, 26. 

Talipot, 171. 

Tamasha, 247. 

Tamil, 4, 5, 6. 

Tatooing, 117, 118, 119. 

Telegu, 4. 

Telepathy, 295. 

Tellicherry, 147. 

Temples, 46, 47. 

Termites. See White-Ants. 

Theans, 75. 

Thieves, 131, 132. 

Ticks, 50. 

Tic Polonga, 58. 

Tigers, 44, 233, 255, 257, 258 ; and 

wild boar contrasted, 235 ; the 

whiskers, a charm, 258 ; stag and, 

269 ; a mistake, 270. 
Tobacco — flowers, 156 ; culture, 156 ; 

chewing, 99, 100 ; smoke hated by 

bees, 175. 
Todas, Mund, 198. 
Toddy, 33. 
Tomatoes, wild, 159. 
Toucan, 153. 
' Travellers' bungalows,' 121. 



300 ROUGHING IT IN SOUTHERN INDIA 



Trees — ' flame - of - the - forest, ' 22; 
Sumponghi, 22; geranium, 23; 
rhododendron, 23 ; neem, 76 ; 
Saponaria, 131 ; silk-cotton, 179. 



Vaccination : 

Government orders, difficulties, 
133. 

people's terror of, 134. 

leprous vaccine, 135. 
Vanilla, 155. 



Vasco da Gama, 75. 
Vernaculars, 4. 

White-ants, 53, 54, 55, 101. 
Wuddahs, 5. 

Wynad, The, 27, 133, 147, 163-7, 
176, 190-93. 

Zamarin, the, 74. 

Zenana, 218 ; work in, 219 ; visit to, 
221. 



Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 



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